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Highlights

The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Reform Act of 2002 consolidated two programs serving trade-affected workers and made changes to expand benefits and decrease the time it takes for workers to get services. GAO was asked to provide information on (1) how key reform provisions have affected program services, (2) what have been the challenges in implementing new provisions, (3) whether demand for TAA training has changed and how states are meeting this demand, and (4) what is known about what the TAA program is achieving.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Labor 1. Labor should monitor issues related to the implementation of certain provisions of the TAA Reform Act that may have had unintended consequences for some workers, and propose legislative changes as deemed necessary. In particular, Labor should track over time the ability of workers to meet the new training enrollment deadline and of states and local areas to provide appropriate assessments to all trade-affected workers within the deadline, especially when responding to very large layoffs.
Closed - Implemented
Labor has developed new guidance for its regional offices on how to monitor states' implementation of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. This guidance addresses our recommendation because it includes instructions on monitoring the effects of the training enrollment deadline. Implementation of this guidance should help Labor develop a better overall understanding of how the training enrollment deadline has affected workers nationally.
Department of Labor 2. Labor should monitor issues related to the implementation of certain provisions of the TAA Reform Act that may have had unintended consequences for some workers, and propose legislative changes as deemed necessary. In particular, Labor should track over time whether the eligibility criteria for the new wage insurance program are resulting in the denial of services to some older workers who could benefit from the program.
Closed - Implemented
Labor has developed new guidance for its regional offices on how to monitor states' implementation of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. This guidance addresses our recommendation because it includes instructions on monitoring the effects of the wage insurance eligibility criteria. Implementation of this guidance should help Labor develop a better overall understanding of how the wage insurance eligibility criteria have affected workers nationally.

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