Welfare to Work:

JOBS Automated Systems Do Not Focus on Program's Employment Objective

AIMD-94-44: Published: Jun 8, 1994. Publicly Released: Jul 8, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed states' development of automated systems for their Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) programs, focusing on the assistance the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has provided to the states for systems development.

GAO found that: (1) ACF has not provided adequate guidance for the states to develop effective information systems or described how systems can be designed to help caseworkers find employment for program participants; (2) ACF system development guidance focuses only on requirements for data collection and reporting on program participants and the states are designing their systems to meet only those requirements; (3) ACF has not determined how technology can best be used to support programmatic objectives; (4) listing available jobs or information on the kinds of jobs needed in the community would help caseworkers find employment for participants and tailor training programs to increase their marketability; (5) most states and territories have automated JOBS information systems under development, but the kind of system and the degree of automation varies by state; and (6) JOBS data are inconsistent, inaccurate, and incomplete because almost half of the states' systems do not collect all the data needed or have all the functions required by ACF.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: HHS developed plans to carry out the recommendations; however, insufficient funding prevented the agency from implementing these plans. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 changed key welfare programs from federal to state-administered. Under the new act of 1996, the JOBS program will be carried out by the states through a block grant.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families to work with the states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories to determine how technology can best be used to achieve the overall JOBS program objective of helping welfare clients become employed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Because HHS's responsibility for the JOBS program has changed, this recommendation is no longer applicable.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families to incorporate these features into system guidance for use by the states in further developing their automated JOBS information systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: HHS recognizes that some states have had difficulty providing some of the data required and that the accuracy of some of the data submitted by the states has been questioned. HHS says that it has been in contact with all states to clarify the mandatory data definitions and to aid in the timely submission of error-free reports. However, HHS has planned no specific effort to share the results of its error-correction activities with other states. HHS believes that, over the long term, its development of a model/prototype JOBS case management system will contribute to better quality data.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families to continue working with the states to correct problems with JOBS data and that the results of this work be provided to other states to improve the overall quality of these data.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

 

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