Welfare:

Expert Panels' Insights on Major Reform Proposals

HRD-88-59: Published: Feb 3, 1988. Publicly Released: Mar 4, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO convened two panels of experts to obtain their insights on four welfare reform issues, including: (1) case management; (2) contracts between welfare recipients and agencies; (3) services coordination; and (4) target populations.

GAO found that the panels: (1) supported the case management concept of using a single case manager to help welfare recipients achieve self-sufficiency; (2) did not support the concept of binding agreements between the agency and recipient, and related sanctions, since sanctions had never worked in the past; (3) agreed that existing welfare programs needed better coordination and integration; (4) suggested that state and local agencies had greater flexibility to adapt program plans and incentives to their needs; and (5) supported the idea of greater targeting of services to specific populations and tailoring of certain benefits and services for them. In addition, the panels suggested: (1) mandating a basic program of welfare-to-work services and incentives for states to develop more comprehensive services; (2) setting goals and performance measures for each state's work program to account for program characteristics, job opportunities, and resources; (3) developing program performance measures in terms of quality, numbers, and job placement duration; and (4) extending the support periods for transportation and medical services after a recipient has taken a job and left the welfare rolls.

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