Under the Workforce Investment Act, local workforce areas are likely to offer dislocated workers services that are tailored to local needs and that emphasize a quick return to employment. Nine of the local workforce areas that GAO visited emphasized a quick return to work and enrolled fewer dislocated workers into training than were enrolled under the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA). Five local areas enrolled into training an equal or greater number of dislocated workers than were enrolled under JTPA. States used the act's flexibility to decide how much of their set-aside funds to spend on rapid response for dislocated workers and how much to spend on other statewide activities. Most of the 50 states that responded to a GAO survey on rapid response activities said that their state unit provided services when layoffs and plant closings involved 50 or more workers and that the state generally relied on local workforce area officials to provide rapid response services for layoffs affecting fewer workers. Workforce officials in several states expressed concern that the act's dislocated worker funding formula causes dramatic fluctuations in funding that are unrelated to the number of dislocated workers in the state.
Matter for Congressional Consideration
|Congress should consider modifying the existing dislocated worker funding formula to minimize funding volatility and to ensure that dislocated worker funds are better distributed to states in relation to their dislocated worker population. Congress may wish to direct Labor to undertake a study of the dislocated worker funding formula to identify factors that would enable better distribution of program funds to states in relation to their dislocated worker population.||In August 2003, GAO delivered a report to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions discussing potential effects of alternative funding formulas, including the dislocated worker funding formula. Committee staff have subsequently requested Labor to analyze factors identified in the report and assess potential impact.|
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Labor||1. The Secretary of Labor should provide local workforce areas with additional guidance on implementation issues and information on best practices to facilitate implementation of the dislocated worker program under WIA and to assist local workforce officials in using the greater flexibility afforded by the act to design programs and services. Such guidance would help the local areas further define their policies and procedures to meet the needs of their dislocated workers.|
|Department of Labor||2. The Secretary of Labor should identify strategies for disseminating this information in a timely manner. In particular, Labor should proactively identify areas that emerge as requiring additional guidance to help state and local areas implement the dislocated worker program.|
|Department of Labor||3. The Secretary of Labor should identify strategies for disseminating this information in a timely manner. In particular, Labor should disseminate guidance that is more responsive to the concerns of workforce officials responsible for implementing the act's requirements, including when to register individuals into the dislocated worker program and how to provide additional assistance to local areas using rapid response funds.|
|Department of Labor||4. The Secretary of Labor should identify strategies for disseminating this information in a timely manner. In particular, Labor should disseminate timely information on best practices being developed by local areas to meet the needs of their dislocated workers.|