Multiple Employment and Training Programs:

Funding and Performance Measures for Major Programs

GAO-03-589: Published: Apr 18, 2003. Publicly Released: Apr 18, 2003.

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Federally funded employment and training programs serve an important role in the nation's economy by helping job seekers enhance their job skills, identify job opportunities and ultimately find employment. While the Department of Labor is responsible for overseeing many of these programs, other agencies such as the Departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development also play a role. In the 1990s, we issued a series of reports that highlighted the range of programs that provided employment and training services. Again in 2000, just after the implementation of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which provided for a consolidated service delivery system for many of the programs, we reviewed the workforce development system, identifying 40 federally funded employment and training programs--operated through seven federal agencies--for which a key program goal was providing employment and training assistance. As WIA approaches reauthorization, it is important to re-examine the system's structure to determine if additional changes are indicated. Specifically, we determined (1) how many federal employment and training programs there were in fiscal year 2002, their appropriations in fiscal years 2001, 2002, and 2003; and the proportion of funds used to provide employment and training services; (2) how many individuals were served by the programs and the target populations and services associated with each program; and (3) the kinds of outcome measures used by the programs.

In summary, we identified 44 programs administered by 9 federal agencies that provided a range of employment and training services. While many of the programs were the same as those included in the 2000 report, 10 programs were newly identified and 6 previously identified programs had been discontinued. Collectively, appropriations for employment and training programs remained relatively constant between fiscal years 1999 and 2002, totaling $30 billion in 2002, with roughly $12 billion used for employment and training activities. While six programs accounted for 73 percent of the $12 billion total, a majority of programs reported using 75 percent or more of their appropriations for employment and training activities. The programs served a total of 29 million individuals, with about three-fourths of the programs focusing their services primarily on one target population. Some of the programs were small, serving about 100 participants, while other programs were quite large, serving just over 19 million participants. Seventy-seven percent of the programs identified one primary target population as the intended service recipients, with Native Americans, veterans, and youth ranking among the most frequently cited target populations. More programs required participants to be economically disadvantaged in fiscal year 2002--17 programs focused on the economically disadvantaged in 2002, compared with 15 programs in 1999. In fact, 6 of the 17 programs that currently require participants to be economically disadvantaged did not have that requirement in 1999. Counseling and job search/job placement activities were among the most commonly provided services. Almost all of the 44 programs we identified reported tracking at least one outcome measure, but 2 programs told us that they did not plan to track any outcome measures in 2003. Of those programs that are tracking outcomes, the most frequently cited performance measures was "entered employment"--the number of program participants finding jobs. This measure was tracked by 38 of the programs.

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