Federally Assisted Employment and Training:

A Myriad of Programs Should Be Simplified

HRD-79-11: Published: May 8, 1979. Publicly Released: May 8, 1979.

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In an attempt to determine the extent of coordination in federal employment and training programs, GAO examined the effectiveness of these programs in the Tidewater, Virginia, area. Some of the approaches used in the programs included public service employment, institutional training, on-the-job training, vocational rehabilitation, work experience, and job placement assistance. The success of the federal efforts to make people employable and place them in permanent unsubsidized jobs has been impeded by problems of program proliferation and coordination. Congress addressed this problem with the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973, which consolidated 17 separate federal employment and training programs and channeled program funds through local and state governments. Over the years, however, additional employment and training programs have been established, and the problems of program proliferation and coordination remain.

In 1977 a total of 44 federally assisted programs served at least 70,604 participants in the Tidewater area. One program served only 2 participants while another served about 55,500. The programs involved 5 federal departments, 3 independent federal agencies, 1 federal Regional Council, 26 national organizations or state agencies, and more than 50 local administering agencies. The 44 Tidewater programs represent 16 separate legislative authorities. The result is a vast network of special emphasis categories characterized by programs with similar goals and target groups, federal funds that follow a variety of administrative channels before reaching the people to be served, and a complex and confusing approach to helping individuals obtain training or employment. No central source of information was available on federally assisted employment and training programs in the Tidewater area, and thus it appeared that program agents administer programs without full knowledge of what others are doing. Evaluations of the overall effectiveness of programs and their economic impact would be difficult due to the lack of good data on the local labor market. Reliable data on specific skill needs or changes in needs of area employers and employed were not available. Also, required reports on program results generally did not permit evaluation of program effectiveness.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should, on the basis of the executive branch's proposals regarding program consolidation, amend employment and training legislation to reduce the number of separate programs. In amending employment and training legislation, Congress should ensure that appropriate organizational arrangements are mandated to improve coordination and integration of federally assisted employment and training programs.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget, with the assistance of the Secretary of Labor, should explore ways to streamline the employment and training system, including consolidation of programs where feasible, and submit proposed legislation to Congress for program consolidation where necessary. In the interim, the Director should emphasize to federal, state, and local agencies administering employment and training programs of the need to coordinate the planning and operations of the programs.

    Agency Affected:


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