This report outlines the accomplishments and challenges in implementing the workforce and Unemployment Insurance (UI) provisions of the Recovery Act, highlights new and promising practices, and provides guidance to the Employment and Training Administration, the states, and local workforce investment areas.

The ETA received monthly reports from the states on their expenditures and activities, but it did not receive systematic in-depth information about the implementation of the workforce components of the Recovery Act. The study team assessed progress and challenges related to the following federal workforce development programs that were awarded the noted amount of resources: Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Adult Program ($494 million), the WIA Dislocated Worker program ($1,184 million), and the Wagner-Peyser Act ($148 million for unrestricted services and $247 million for reemployment services). In addition, they studied progress and challenges with unemployment insurance (UI) programs ($45 billion over 10 years). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

•  The most commonly cited challenge, mentioned by 17 of the 20 states visited, was dealing with the Recovery Act reporting requirements focused on the need to set up, with little notice, new reports that were different from their regular reports in terms of schedule and, in some instances, content. The frequency of reporting — monthly rather than quarterly —also was viewed by some states as burdensome (p.280).

•  Second, time issues were mentioned as a challenge in 13 states, often in conjunction with staffing and reporting issues. Some states felt that the pressure to spend Recovery Act funds quickly was more difficult because of changes in ETA implementation of waiver authority, which states previously used to transfer funds from the WIA Dislocated Worker program to the 282 WIA Adult program (281). 

•  The next most frequently identified challenge was funding issues, mentioned by 12 of the 20 states visited. The specific challenges identified varied among the states. One state (Colorado) said that its procurement requirements led to delays in spending some of its Recovery Act funds. The state’s workforce officials observed that the state’s procurement process can be long and cumbersome and that trying to get Recovery Act funds out quickly and meeting procurement requirements can (in some cases) be a great difficulty. Two states (Colorado and Florida) stated that they had experienced difficulties spending Recovery Act funds because ETA adjusted their waivers and limited the amount by which they could transfer their WIA Dislocated Worker funds to the Adult program (p.283).

•  The fourth most identified challenge with regard to the Recovery Act—mentioned by 12 of the 20 states — was staffing issues, particularly related to bringing on new staff and providing necessary training (p.285).

(Abstractor: Author)