Labor Department Should Reconsider Its Approach to Employment Security Automation

HRD-78-169: Published: Dec 28, 1978. Publicly Released: Dec 28, 1978.

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The Employment Security Automation Project has been proposed by the Department of Labor to coordinate the development, implementation, and operation of automated employment security systems nationwide. Labor believed that, by consolidating the automation activities of both the Employment Service and the Unemployment Insurance Service, greater efficiency and economy would be achieved. The project has experienced many problems since its inception. The estimated cost has risen and may go even higher, and the completion date has been extended 3 years and will probably need to be extended further. States have had difficulty in implementing their plans because of insufficient computer capacity and delays in acquiring new computers.

The chief problem is that the methods of automation advocated by Labor have not been properly planned, tested, or evaluated for state use throughout the country. Although Labor justified the project by citing the advantages in combining the independent approaches to automation into one concerted effort, it is not clear that any real benefits are accruing from this approach. There is a general lack of criteria as to what the project should accomplish in any given state, and as a result, each state has a unique approach to automation. There is also a lack of management control. The project requires the participation of four separate organizations within Labor's Employment and Training Administration, but no one office or individual had overall authority and responsibility. Labor plans to have an outside contractor evaluate the project's impact and it is estimated that it will take 2 years to complete the evaluation.

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