Does AFDC Workfare Work:
Information Is Not Yet Available From HHS's Demonstration Projects
IPE-83-3, Jan 24, 1983
In response to a congressional request, GAO answered some questions about Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) efforts to evaluate the Community Work Experience Program (CWEP) demonstrations which are intended to test innovative approaches for requiring recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children to earn their welfare benefits in jobs in the public or private nonprofit sector.
GAO found that there is no legislative requirement that HHS evaluate or report to Congress on CWEP demonstrations. However, committee reports on the legislation do imply the necessity of evaluations to determine which programs have demonstrated success. GAO found that HHS has used different approaches in providing for the evaluation of fiscal year (FY) 1982 demonstrations. A multi-State evaluation project was initially proposed but it was not funded. In its absence, the States were not required to undertake, nor were they given funds to expand, their own evaluation efforts. Some of the demonstrations approved for FY 1983 are required to have an evaluation component and funds have been awarded for that purpose. Oversight of the demonstrations has been accomplished through quarterly progress reports from the States and monitoring by Federal project officers. GAO stated that strengthening oversight procedures could make it more likely that the evaluations of these demonstrations will be successfully implemented. To date, the HHS evaluation program has not provided information on whether workfare was successful in moving recipients to unsubsidized jobs, reducing welfare costs, or meeting other program goals. As a result, future policy discussion on workfare will not be adequately informed. To provide information on the success of workfare, the proposed 1983 evaluations must be implemented and the methodological integrity of their designs must be maintained.