A Comprehensive Approach Needed for Further Productivity Improvements in the Unemployment Insurance Program

HRD-85-8: Published: Oct 25, 1984. Publicly Released: Oct 25, 1984.

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GAO reviewed the Department of Labor's utilization of resources in its implementation of the federal-state Unemployment Insurance (UI) program.

GAO found that states administering the program have achieved significant productivity increases over the past 20 years, although there is potential for further improvement. GAO noted that there remain significant differences in productivity rates among states and offices within states, many of which are attributable to variations in operating practices. GAO also noted that productivity improvement receives some attention from Labor management, but it is not a specific management objective and Labor does not have a comprehensive approach for achieving productivity improvements.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: ETA no longer collects unit cost data for state UI administrations. A November 1988 contract report on UI funding options may recommend such measures, but ETA has no definite plans at this time for adopting them or implementing state improvement goals.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should direct the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) to develop a plan for improving productivity in administering the UI program to include: (1) measures of productivity and unit costs; (2) improvement goals; and (3) a joint approach with states to identify and disseminate information on best management and processing practices to improve productivity.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Labor issued a contract to explore the development of an operational prototype productivity measurement system that integrates both qualitative and quantitative program measures. The contract was partially diverted to evaluate the impact of budget reductions on productivity. Consequently, no recommendations were developed to encourage states to adopt efficient management practices.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should direct ETA to assess the potential benefits and determine which type of incentives would be most suitable for encouraging states to adopt best management practices.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor


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