The Distribution of Senior Community Service Employment Program Positions

HRD-80-13: Published: Nov 8, 1979. Publicly Released: Nov 13, 1979.

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The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) was established to offer part-time employment opportunities for unemployed, low-income persons, aged 55 or older, who have poor employment prospects. The Department of Labor administers SCSEP through its Office of National Programs, Employment and Training Administration. Local involvement in decisions concerning the establishment of SCSEP projects is obtained through state and area agencies on aging that are responsible for developing plans for providing services to the elderly. As a result of two appropriation acts, about 80 percent of the funds for 1978 SCSEP activities were given to organizations already funded. Most existing activities were carried out by five national grantees; consequently, they received most of the funds for program year 1978. The remainder of the 1978 funds, about 20 percent, were not earmarked for any specific group by the legislative acts. Labor made these funds available to all state governments to carry out SCSEP programs in addition to any SCSEP activity established in their state by any of the national grantees. In awarding funds to maintain the existing level of activities, the Secretary of Labor is required to ensure an equitable distribution of activities among the states. When awarding funds not required to maintain the existing level of activity, the Secretary is to provide funds to states in proportion to the number of persons aged 55 or over in each state, with minimum amounts established for the states and other jurisdictions. GAO examined the procedures used to select project sites for the SCSEP, after it was suggested that SCSEP projects and positions, especially in Iowa, were not being distributed evenly throughout the state.

Resources under SCSEP are not sufficient to realistically achieve an equitable distribution of positions throughout a state. In program year 1979, funds were availble to support about 47,500 SCSEP positions; however, over 5 million individuals met SCSEP eligibility requirements. A similar situation existed in Iowa, where over 155,000 individuals were estimated to meet SCSEP eligibility requirements. During the program years 1977 and 1978, the total number of SCSEP positions funded in Iowa amounted to 139 and 449, respectively. Although the grantees' distribution of SCSEP positions has left many geographical areas unserved by the program, their efforts to enhance administrative economy have merit when considered in relation to limited program resources and the significance of the program's administrative requirements. A potential for controversy exists regarding the criteria used in distributing SCSEP positions. Each area agency on aging desires services for its clientele, and the state agency on aging would like to have services available throughout the state. Recent legislation could improve the situation; however, unless state and local agencies on aging can work cooperatively with national program grantees, the potential for controversy regarding the equitable distribution of SCSEP positions within the states could still exist.

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