Welfare to Work:

Measuring Outcomes for JOBS Participants

HEHS-95-86: Published: Apr 17, 1995. Publicly Released: Apr 17, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) and the states' use of outcome measurements for the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program, focusing on: (1) HHS progress in measuring the employment status of JOBS participants at the national level and setting national goals against which program performance will be measured; (2) the extent to which states are measuring participant outcomes and setting performance goals; and (3) the major issues that should be considered in measuring JOBS participant outcomes and setting performance goals.

GAO found that: (1) HHS does not gather enough information on critical program outcomes to determine if JOBS is reducing participants' welfare dependency; (2) HHS only monitors and holds states accountable for program participation and not for program outcomes, which gives the states little incentive to move participants to employment and off welfare; (3) HHS states that a combination of technical and environmental factors have impeded its development of JOBS outcome indicators; (4) most states collect some information on participant outcomes to manage their programs, but the extent of this information varies widely among the states and the data are not standardized; (5) more than one-half of the states have established annual outcome goals; (6) states are concerned that national outcome goals will not take into account variations in local economic conditions and client characteristics and could unduly influence program design decisions; (7) about 21 percent of JOBS participants found employment in 1993; and (8) HHS needs to ensure that it meets its current schedule for developing JOBS outcome measures and goals by working with states and other concerned parties to resolve differences on the primary objectives of the JOBS program.

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