The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 made sweeping changes to federal employment and training programs. The act sought to unify previously fragmented programs and create a more comprehensive workforce investment system by bringing together most federally funded employment and training services into a single service delivery system known as the one-stop center system. The administration has twice proposed reducing the program's budget, citing the large amounts of unexpended funds that states carried over from the prior year. State and local workforce officials, however, have requested more funding in light of current economic conditions. GAO found that the Department of Labor lacks accurate information on states' WIA spending because of reporting inconsistencies--all states do not report expenditures or commitments in the same way. To determine how states manage their spending, Labor has established its own spending benchmarks, using them to access whether states are on track with their spending, to target technical assistance, and to formulate budget requests. Several factors affect when expenditures occur or are reported. State officials said that cumbersome processes to get spending approval, lengthy contract procurement procedures, and untimely billing by key service providers, especially community colleges, all delayed the timing of expenditures, sometimes by as much as 8 months.
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