Describes the accountability system implemented under the Workforce Investment Act, reports findings about how 28 Local Workforce Investment Areas view the required performance measures, and discusses staff perceptions on changes to the performance measures under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

 “The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) established a system to promote performance-based accountability for the public workforce system. This system assessed the performance of the states and Local Workforce Investment Areas (local areas) charged with delivering employment-related services through the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker programs and other programs. As part of this system, the Act specified four performance measures for job seeking customers: (1) entry into unsubsidized employment, (2) employment retention, (3) earnings after six months in employment; and (4) credential attainment. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) superseded WIA but maintained, with several changes, WIA’s accountability system.

This brief describes key features of the WIA accountability system and the role of performance measures in the 28 local areas randomly selected to participate in the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs Gold Standard Evaluation….The data are mostly drawn from the evaluation’s qualitative data collection during visits made to the local areas in 2012 and 2013 and telephone interviews in 2014” (p.1-2).

The brief first defines each of the common measures developed “to consistently assess performance across multiple workforce development programs” (p.2). It then also discusses “local area perspectives on the common measures” (p.2), “performance accountability for WIA service providers” (p.3), the “role of performance measures in service delivery,” (p.4) and “staff perceptions of WIOA changes to the accountability system” (p.4).

 “This issue brief is one in a series of briefs that presents findings from the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs Gold Standard Evaluation, which is being conducted for the U.S. Department of Labor…, Employment and Training Administration….The study examines the implementation, effectiveness, and benefits and costs of the Adult and Dislocated Worker programs using an experimental design” (p.6).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Full publication title: The Workforce Investment Act Accountability System: The Role of Performance Measures in Service Delivery

Major Findings & Recommendations

“Across the…local areas…participating in the [WIA] Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs Gold Standard Evaluation: • Most, but not all, local administrative staff indicated that the three ‘common measures’ used to assess performance—employment, retention, and earnings—were appropriate for assessing the work that they do” (p.1). Specifically, “administrative staff from most of the study local areas (17 out of 28) said that the common measures captured the most important aspects of their Adult and Dislocated Worker programs’ performance. Of the remaining 11 local areas, staff from three expressed both positive and negative views of the measures and staff from four offered a predominantly negative opinion. Staff from four local areas did not comment” (p.2). • “Local areas typically used performance measures…to hold the providers of services under the Adult and Dislocated Worker programs accountable for their performance” (p.1). These measures most often included “common measures” (p.3) and “enrollment or caseload measures” (p.3), but also “additional employment measures” (p.3), “cost efficiency measures” (p.3), “customer satisfaction measures” (p.3), and measures to “assess performance on providing business services” (p.3). These additional measures were used by local areas to “encourage strong performance by their service providers” (p.3). • Performance measures, as well as resource availability and client needs, affected local areas’ decisions about who to serve and services offered. • Local area administrative staff generally supported (1) the addition of a credential attainment measure and (2) the use of statistical modeling to develop local area performance targets. These were two of the changes to the accountability system included in [WIOA]” (p.1). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)