Veterans' Employment and Training Service:

Proposed Performance Measurement System Improved, But Further Changes Needed

GAO-01-580: Published: May 15, 2001. Publicly Released: May 15, 2001.

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This report discusses the proposed performance measurement system at the Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS). Specifically, GAO reviews (1) VETS' proposed performance measures, including possible concerns about the measures; (2) the proposed data source for the new system; and (3) other measurement issues that would effect the comparability of states' performance data. GAO found that VETS' proposed performance measures would improve performance accountability over the current system, but some aspects of the new measures raise concerns. VETS' strategic plan suggests that states focus their efforts on providing staff-assisted services to veterans, including case management. Yet none of the proposed measures specifically gauge the success of these services. In addition, VETS' proposal includes one measure--the number of federal contractor jobs listed with local employment offices--that is not only process-oriented but also focuses on outcomes that are beyond the control of staff serving veterans. VETS proposes that all states use a single data source--Unemployment Insurance wage records--to identify veterans who get jobs. Using these data will greatly improve the comparability and reliability of the new measures. Although using these data will improve some aspects of data collection, the data present some challenges. States generally do not have access to wage records from other states and, therefore, should find ways to track individuals who receive services in one state but get a job in another. Other issues that affect the comparability of states' performance-related data should be considered. For example, states vary in whether they register and count, for performance reporting purposes, job seekers who use only self-service tools, such as internet-based job listings.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VETS has added a second tier of grant-based performance measurement, focusing on the outcomes experienced by those veterans served by DVOP/LVER staff. As GAO's report indicates, case management is the most intensive service provided by VETS-funded staff and it is the DVOP specialists who are assigned specific responsibility for the delivery of this service. Therefore, VETS has applied the measure "Entered Employment Following Case Management," which is applied to all veterans as well as to disabled veterans who are served by DVOP specialists.

    Recommendation: In order to establish a more effective performance management system, the Secretary of Labor should direct VETS to redefine staff-assisted services to include only those that may be considered staff intensive, such as case management, so that VETS will be able to evaluate the success of intensive staff-assisted services.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VETS' new strategic plan identifies disabled veterans as a priority. The Assistant Secretary was given the authority to provide financial incentives by the Jobs for Veterans Act, and a policy letter has been issued to the states providing for staff incentives. The incentive awards were institutionalized on October 1, 2003.

    Recommendation: In order to establish a more effective performance management system, the Secretary of Labor should direct VETS to clearly define target populations so that staff assisting veterans know where to place their priorities. If staff are to focus on assisting veterans who need more assistance, VETS should provide incentives and opportunities to do so through appropriate performance measures or negotiated levels of performance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VETS eliminated the Federal Contractor performance measure July 1, 2002.

    Recommendation: In order to establish a more effective performance management system, the Secretary of Labor should direct VETS to eliminate the measure related to federal contractor jobs so that staff are not held accountable for the number of federal contractors in a state or local area or for the failure of contractors to list their jobs with employment services offices.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: According to VETS, standardizing the counting of veterans includes 3 key elements that are intertwined with generic aspects of both Employment and Training Administration's (ETA) 9002 reports and, for grants to veterans, VETS 200 reports. VETS believes that since ETA produces these reports, it has achieved progress in this area by collaborating closely with ETA. VETS also notes that Labor adopted Common Measures on July 1, 2005 to ensure consistent tracking across states. Prior to this, states tracked either all registrants or only registrants receiving at least one staff-assisted service. Under the new measures, states will be required to track and report outcomes only for "participants." However, GAO believes these efforts will still not standardize how veterans are counted.

    Recommendation: In order to establish a more effective performance management system, the Secretary of Labor should direct VETS to establish and communicate guidelines that standardize how to count veterans for performance-reporting purposes so that VETS will be able to assess program performance nationwide.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor


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