Provides recommendations to the federal, state, and local agencies involved with implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act about how to create a performance management system that will meet all of their needs.

“The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014 helps job seekers access education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and helps match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. To assess states’ performance, the legislation modifies Workforce Investment Act measures so that states and other stakeholders can use the federal system to assess performance and hold programs accountable.

This issue brief provides guidance on what it will take to develop a first-class performance management system that allows states to collect and report accurate data. It provides recommendations to help federal, state, and local agencies ensure that their performance management systems support accountability and can help them manage their programs. It also provides guidance to help federal and state labor and education agencies develop and implement the new systems to generate quality performance data at a reasonable cost.

In preparing this issue brief, [the authors] draw on lessons learned from the implementation of performance management systems for other programs, including the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, the Department of Labor’s common measures, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and several discretionary and nondiscretionary Department of Education programs” (p.1).

The brief was published in 2015 by Mathematica Policy Research for use in the WIOA planning process. The authors explain that performance management systems will likely be considered during this process because they “can serve many purposes, the most significant of which are accountability and program management. Policymakers, program managers, the public, and other stakeholders use measures to assess the performance of state and federal programs and to compare performance across time and states when making program and funding decisions…Performance management systems also help staff manage programs. The data used to calculate accountability measures, plus additional data and performance measures that states and local offices use to make short-term decisions, can help improve program outcomes…Successful performance management systems must provide information that is accurate, complete, comparable among states and across time, standardized, stable, transparent, and usable for managing and assessing a program’s success” (p.1-2).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The brief provides “8 steps in creating a first-class performance management system,” which include the following: “1. Develop measures that are easy to understand and calculate. 2. Build a robust, complete set of measures. 3. Create detailed technical specifications for the measures and data. 4. Fully develop the system before implementation. 5. Create documentation standards and arrange for required data concurrently with system implementation. 6. Provide states with a web-based reporting and validation application. 7. Provide training and ongoing technical assistance to states. 8. Collect additional data to analyze program management and evaluation” (p.2). The brief offers detailed guidance under each of these eight steps, including suggestions for creating technical specifications and information about how WIA dealt with the data collection challenges that WIOA may now face. The brief closes by summing up the process and players needed to create a quality performance management system. “Successfully implementing a performance management system requires careful thought to create an accurate, comprehensive, transparent, standardized, stable, and useful structure. Lessons learned from Mathematica’s performance management experience suggest that building a first-class system requires both federal and state participation. At the federal level, agencies must carefully develop measures that fully incorporate and assess key aspects of the program…With this information in hand, agencies can develop a web-based application to calculate state performance measures and assess data quality. Lastly, training and technical assistance can ensure that states have the know-how to collect the required data, use the reporting system, and understand the results. At the same time, states must be engaged in the process. State involvement ensures that federal agencies understand the consequences of their decisions and implement an accountability system that states are prepared to use…States must consider their internal management and reporting needs as they plan and implement performance management systems. Thinking creatively about the data and measures needed to manage and evaluate their programs, and exploring new research and quantitative techniques that can help them put data to better use, can reveal promising approaches to case management and service delivery” (p.7). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)