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entitled 'Homeless Veterans: Job Retention Goal Under Development for 
DOL's Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program' which was released on 
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Testimony:

Before the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, Committee on Veterans' 
Affairs, House of Representatives:

United States Government Accountability Office:

GAO:

For Release on Delivery Expected at 2:00 p.m. EDT:

Wednesday, May 4, 2005:

Homeless Veterans:

Job Retention Goal Under Development for DOL's Homeless Veterans' 
Reintegration Program:

Statement of Cynthia A. Bascetta: 
Director, Health Care:

GAO-05-654T:

GAO Highlights:

Highlights of GAO-05-654T, a testimony before the Subcommittee on 
Economic Opportunity, Committee on Veteransí Affairs, House of 
Representatives: 

Why GAO Did This Study:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has estimated that as many as 
250,000 veterans may be homeless on any given day. Many other veterans 
are also considered at risk for homelessness because of poverty, lack 
of support from family and friends, and precarious living conditions in 
overcrowded or substandard housing. One federal program designed to 
help these veterans is the Department of Laborís (DOL) Homeless 
Veteransí Reintegration Program (HVRP)óa grant program that provides 
funding for employment and training services for homeless veterans. GAO 
was asked to assist the subcommittee with its consideration of HVRP 
reauthorization by providing information on DOLís (1) expenditures on 
HVRP grants and (2) measures and goals for assessing the effectiveness 
of HVRP. GAO reviewed VA and DOL documentation that included the 
amounts DOL expended for HVRP as well as information on HVRP grantees 
and performance goals. GAO also interviewed DOL program officials. 

What GAO Found:

DOLís expenditures for HVRP grants have increased from $9.5 million in 
fiscal year 2000 to over $18 million in fiscal year 2004. For fiscal 
years 2005 and 2006, DOL estimates that it will expend over $20 million 
on HVRP grants each year. Currently, DOL oversees 79 HVRP grants that 
help provide employment and job training services for homeless 
veterans. 

DOL Actual and Estimated Expenditures on HVRP Grants for Fiscal Years 
2000-2006: 

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

In program year 2003 (July 1, 2003 through June 30, 2004), 63 percent 
of homeless veterans enrolled in HVRP funded programs entered 
employment, which exceeds the 61 percent entered-employment goal in 
DOLís fiscal year 2006 budget. DOL recently reported that for program 
year 2003, 35 percent of employed veterans served through the program 
retained their jobs for 180 days. However, DOL is in the process of 
developing a performance goal for this job retention measure. This goal 
along with the entered-employment goal will help DOL, Congress, and 
others evaluate the impact that HVRP has on homeless veterans. 

www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-05-654T. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact Cynthia A. Bascetta at 
(202) 512-7101. 

[End of section]

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

We are pleased to be here today to discuss employment and job-training 
services for homeless veterans through the Department of Labor's (DOL) 
Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program (HVRP). HVRP is a grant 
program that funds employment and training services for homeless 
veterans, as part of DOL's overall efforts under the Veterans' 
Employment and Training Service (VETS). The Department of Veterans 
Affairs (VA) has estimated that as many as 250,000 veterans may be 
homeless on any given day. Many other veterans are also considered at 
risk for homelessness because of health problems such as substance 
abuse and mental illness, poverty, lack of support from family and 
friends, and precarious living conditions in overcrowded or substandard 
housing. Multiple federal agencies such as VA, DOL, and the Department 
of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administer programs that serve 
homeless veterans. 

To assist the subcommittee with its consideration of HVRP 
reauthorization, my testimony today provides information on DOL's (1) 
expenditures on HVRP grants and (2) measures and goals for assessing 
the effectiveness of HVRP. 

During the course of our work, we examined DOL's HVRP grant 
expenditures for fiscal years 2000 through 2004 and its projected 
budgets for 2005 and 2006. We reviewed our past work on federal efforts 
to address the needs of homeless veterans, including related veteran 
employment and training services. (See Related GAO Products at the end 
of this statement.) We also reviewed VA and DOL agency documentation 
that describes the services provided to homeless veterans, interviewed 
DOL program officials, and made a site visit to an HVRP grantee that 
provides training, education, and housing services in Baltimore, 
Maryland. DOL provided us with information on HVRP grantees, 
participants, and performance measures. However, we did not perform 
independent verification of its data. We discussed the information 
contained in this statement with DOL officials, who agreed with its 
contents. We performed our work in April 2005 in accordance with 
generally accepted government auditing standards. 

In summary, DOL's expenditures for HVRP grants have increased from $9.5 
million in fiscal year 2000 to over $18 million in fiscal year 2004. 
For fiscal years 2005 and 2006, DOL estimates that it will expend over 
$20 million on HVRP grants each year. Currently, DOL oversees 79 HVRP 
grants that help provide employment and job training services for 
homeless veterans. In program year 2003 (July 1, 2003, through June 30, 
2004), 63 percent of homeless veterans enrolled in HVRP funded programs 
entered employment, which exceeds the 61 percent entered-employment 
goal in DOL's fiscal year 2006 budget. DOL recently reported that for 
program year 2003, 35 percent of employed veterans served through the 
program retained their jobs for 180 days. However, DOL has not 
developed a performance goal for this job retention measure, but plans 
to do so for 2007. Moreover, DOL has not provided the Congress with 
statutorily required reports on program effectiveness. 

Background:

VA has estimated that one-third of homeless adults have served in the 
armed forces and as many as 250,000 veterans may be homeless on any 
given day.[Footnote 1] Further, according to VA, about 45 percent of 
homeless veterans have mental illnesses, and slightly more than 70 
percent have alcohol and drug abuse problems. 

Under VETS, DOL administers specific programs and activities designed 
to help veterans obtain employment and training assistance. DOL carries 
out its responsibilities through a nationwide network that includes 
staff in each of its 10 regions and staff in state offices. VETS funds 
three types of grant programs to support veterans--HVRP, the Jobs for 
Veterans' State Grants Program, and the Veterans Workforce Investment 
Program. HVRP is the only VETS program specifically targeted to 
homeless veterans. 

HVRP was initially authorized in 1987, as part of the Stewart B. 
McKinney Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney Act).[Footnote 2] Congress 
passed the McKinney Act in part because of concerns that the needs of 
homeless people were not being met beyond their immediate needs for 
food and shelter.[Footnote 3] The McKinney Act was the first 
comprehensive law designed to address other needs of homeless people 
such as physical and mental health care, education, and job training. 
Currently, HVRP is authorized under the Homeless Veterans Comprehensive 
Assistance Act of 2001 (HVCAA), which provides that the Secretary of 
Labor shall conduct programs to provide job training, counseling, and 
placement services to expedite the reintegration of homeless veterans 
into the labor force.[Footnote 4]

HVRP grants are intended to address two objectives: (1) to provide 
services to assist in reintegrating homeless veterans into meaningful 
employment within the labor force and (2) to stimulate the development 
of effective service delivery systems that will address the complex 
problems facing homeless veterans. There are four types of grants that 
are administered under HVRP--urban, non-urban, intermediary, and grants 
to serve previously incarcerated veterans. DOL awards urban grants to 
applicants that provide services in the 75 most populated cities and 
non-urban grants to applicants that provide services in smaller cities 
and rural areas. Additionally, DOL awards grants to intermediaries that 
award a substantial portion of their grants to eligible local grass 
roots organizations to provide employment and training services. 
Finally, DOL awards Incarcerated Veterans' Transition Program grants 
for serving only previously incarcerated veterans at risk of 
homelessness. 

Various organizations, for example state and local agencies, private 
industry, and nonprofit organizations are eligible to receive grants 
under HVRP. DOL assesses each application and awards grants based on a 
number of factors including applicants' strategies for employment and 
retention of employment, and program design as it relates to job 
training, counseling, mentoring and other assistance to expedite the 
reintegration of homeless veterans into the labor force. Currently, 
there are 79 active grants. 

Grantees are required to provide an array of services utilizing a case 
management approach that directly assists homeless veterans and 
provides critical linkages for a variety of supportive services 
available in their local communities.[Footnote 5] Job placement, 
training, career counseling, and resume preparation are among the 
services that are provided by grantees. Supportive services such as 
referral to medical and substance abuse treatment; provision of or 
referral to temporary, transitional, and permanent housing; and 
transportation assistance are also provided to help meet the needs of 
homeless veterans.[Footnote 6]

Prior to fiscal year 2003, HVRP grants included 1 additional year of 
optional funding after the year of award. Beginning in fiscal year 
2003, DOL awards grants for one year, with the option of additional 
funding in each of the next two years based on grantee performance and 
the availability of funds.[Footnote 7] DOL does not guarantee 
additional funding for option years when it awards HVRP grants. 

DOL Expenditures on HVRP Grants Have Increased Since Fiscal Year 2000:

DOL expenditures for HVRP grants increased from $9.5 million in fiscal 
year 2000 to over $18 million in fiscal year 2004. During fiscal year 
2000, DOL awarded $9.5 million for 54 HVRP grants to provide employment 
and training services for 7,800 homeless veterans. During fiscal years 
2001 through 2003, DOL spent about $17.5 million annually to fund 81, 
62, and 77 grants, respectively, to serve about 14,000 homeless 
veterans each year. 

In fiscal year 2004, DOL spent about $18.6 million for HVRP grants--
most of it for urban and non-urban grantees. It was also the first year 
that HVRP provided grants to intermediaries and, during that year, DOL 
expanded grants specifically to serve previously incarcerated veterans-
-$900,000 for intermediaries and $1.5 million for the Incarcerated 
Veterans' Transition Program.[Footnote 8] HVRP is projected to grow 
modestly in fiscal years 2005 and 2006 from fiscal year 2004 funding 
levels. DOL estimates that it will spend about $20 million annually on 
HVRP grants for fiscal years 2005 and 2006. (Figure 1 shows DOL actual 
and estimated expenditures on HVRP Grants for fiscal years 2000-2006.)

Figure 1: DOL Actual and Estimated Expenditures on HVRP Grants for 
Fiscal Years 2000-2006:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

DOL Has Established an Entered-Employment Goal; an Employment-Retention 
Goal Is Under Development:

For program years 2004 and 2005, DOL set an entered-employment goal of 
58 percent for HVRP--defined as the percent of enrolled eligible 
participants who were placed in jobs or otherwise obtained employment 
as a result of grantee services. The Advisory Committee on Homeless 
Veterans and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans also use 
entered-employment rates as a measure of the effectiveness of 
HVRP.[Footnote 9] DOL's 2006 budget indicates that it plans to increase 
this goal to 61 percent. DOL reported to us that for program year 2003, 
the most current year for which data are available, HVRP grantees 
enrolled 13,060 homeless veterans and placed 8,191, or 63 percent, in 
employment--a rate that exceeds both DOL's current entered-employment 
performance goal and its goal for next year. 

Sustained employment is another measure of program effectiveness. DOL 
recognizes that it is necessary to evaluate and measure this long-term 
result.[Footnote 10] HVRP grantees must follow-up 90 and 180 days after 
placement to determine whether a veteran is in the same or similar job 
and must obligate sufficient funds prior to the end of the grant 
performance period to ensure that follow-up activities are completed 
and reported to DOL. These 90 and 180 day follow-ups are fundamental to 
assessing the success of the program, according to DOL. 

However, while DOL requires grantees to measure and report on the 
effectiveness at 90 and 180 days after placement, it has not 
established a performance goal for employment retention for the 
program--the percent of veterans placed in employment who retain their 
jobs. DOL's data for program year 2003 show that while grantees 
achieved a 59 percent retention rate at 90 days, the rate dropped to 35 
percent at 180 days. An employment-retention goal would provide DOL a 
better basis for assessing whether grantees are providing or referring 
homeless veterans to the services necessary for them to retain 
employment. Understanding why job retention drops could help develop 
effective interventions and provide information for establishing future 
performance goals. According to DOL, it plans to establish a 
performance goal for employment retention for fiscal year 2007. 

The Congress has specifically recognized the importance of assessing 
the outcomes of services provided to homeless veterans by requiring DOL 
to report every two years on the effectiveness of HVRP. While DOL has 
taken some steps, it has not provided the required reports. DOL 
officials told us that the department plans to issue its first report 
to the Congress by the end of fiscal year 2005. Providing this 
information to the Congress will help with its oversight of the program 
and with its deliberations regarding program reauthorization. 

Concluding Observations:

Because employment retention is crucial to the overall success of 
transitioning veterans from homelessness, it is important that DOL 
continue to develop a realistic performance goal for employment 
retention to help assess the success of HVRP. Establishing such a 
longer-term goal for the program may help ensure that grantees provide 
veterans with longer-term follow up services necessary to retain 
employment. This goal along with the entered-employment goal will help 
DOL, Congress, and others evaluate the impact that HVRP has on homeless 
veterans. 

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared remarks. I will be pleased to 
answer any questions that you or other members of the subcommittee may 
have. 

Contacts and Acknowledgments:

For further information regarding this testimony, please contact 
Cynthia A. Bascetta at (202) 512-7101 or Michael T. Blair, Jr., at 
(404) 679-1944. Michael Tropauer also contributed to this statement. 

[End of section]

Related GAO Products:

Veterans' Employment and Training Service: Flexibility and 
Accountability Needed to Improve Service to Veterans. GAO-01-928. 
Washington, D.C.: September 12, 2001. 

Homeless Veterans: VA Expands Partnerships, but Homeless Program 
Effectiveness Is Unclear. GAO/HEHS-99-53. Washington, D.C.: April 1, 
1999. 

Homelessness: Coordination and Evaluation of Programs Are Essential. 
GAO/RCED-99-49. Washington, D.C.: February 26, 1999. 

FOOTNOTES

[1] VA bases its homeless veteran population estimate on the Urban 
Institute's analysis of a 1996 survey of homeless clients and providers 
conducted by the Census Bureau: Homelessness: Programs and the People 
They Serve, Technical Report prepared by the Urban Institute for the 
Interagency Council for Homelessness, Sept. 1999. 

[2] See Pub. L. No. 100-77, ß 738, 101 Stat. 482, 530-31 (1987). 

[3] The act's definition of homeless includes individuals who lack a 
fixed, nighttime residence and whose primary nighttime residence is 
either a supervised temporary shelter, institution, or a place not 
ordinarily used for sleeping. 

[4] See Pub. L. No. 107-95, ß 5, 115 Stat. 903, 909-10 (2001). 

[5] Case management is a client-centered approach for the delivery of 
intensive services. Case management is designed to prepare and 
coordinate comprehensive employment plans for participants, to help 
ensure access to the necessary training and supportive services, and to 
provide support during program participation and after job placement. 

[6] Transitional housing is generally housing in which homeless persons 
live for up to 24 months and receive supportive services that enable 
them to live more independently. Permanent housing is long-term 
community-based housing and supportive services for homeless persons 
with disabilities. The intent of this type of supportive housing is to 
enable this special needs population to live as independently as 
possible in a permanent setting. 

[7] HVRP grants are made for a program year that runs from July 1 to 
June 30. 

[8] DOL reports that a demonstration grant was provided to serve 
previously incarcerated veterans in fiscal year 2003. 

[9] The Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans is comprised of experts 
in the treatment of mental illness, substance use, housing 
alternatives, and vocational rehabilitation; representatives from 
community service providers with qualifications to deal effectively 
with care and treatment services for homeless veterans; veterans 
service organizations; advocates of homeless veterans and other 
homeless individuals; previously homeless veterans; and state veterans 
affairs officials. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans is a 
nonprofit organization that serves as a resource for a network of 
nearly 250 community-based service providers and local, state and 
federal agencies that provide emergency and supportive housing, food, 
health services, job training and placement assistance, legal aid and 
case management support for hundreds of thousands of homeless veterans 
each year. 

[10] See 70 Fed. Reg. 15899, 15901 (Mar. 29, 2005): Department of 
Labor, Veterans' Employment and Training Service, Urban Homeless 
Veterans' Reintegration Program Grants for Program Year 2005: Initial 
Solicitation for Grant Applications.