Veterans' Employment and Training Service:

Labor Actions Needed to Improve Accountability and Help States Implement Reforms to Veterans' Employment Services

GAO-06-176: Published: Dec 30, 2005. Publicly Released: Dec 30, 2005.

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Roughly 700,000 veterans have been unemployed in recent months, a figure that could swell considerably with the anticipated increase in the number of people leaving active duty. Congress passed the Jobs for Veterans Act in 2002 to improve employment and training services for veterans and to encourage employers to hire them. As mandated by law, GAO reviewed progress to date in its implementation, including the development of new staff roles and responsibilities, performance accountability system, incentive awards, and priority of service to veterans. GAO examined (1) implementation status of the key provisions and any associated challenges, (2) what is known about services and outcomes since the law's enactment, and (3) changes in program accountability.

Labor implemented most provisions of the Jobs for Veterans Act (JVA) within the first 2 years of its enactment. However, some are not fully implemented, such as measures to increase service priority for veterans in the full spectrum of Labor's training programs, and others designed to improve accountability from states and federal contractors. States also report substantial progress implementing the law, but challenges remain in some areas. About one-third of the states, for example, did not establish incentive award programs for their workforce personnel because their laws, policies, or agreements conflict with this JVA provision. Most state workforce administrators surveyed reported that the new legislation has improved both the quality of services to veterans and their employment outcomes. They credited the greater availability of case management services under JVA for much of the improvement in employment. They cited lack of federal contractor compliance with the law's provisions as most likely to have limited veterans' employment opportunities. Aside from the law's influence, they cited the willingness of employers to hire veterans and the strength of the local job market as significant factors affecting veterans' employment. About half of state directors of Veterans' Employment and Training reported their new monitoring role had strengthened local program accountability. However, just over a third reported that accountability had either lessened or not improved. Some partly attributed this to absence of local performance data and fewer annual visits to one-stop centers. GAO found, as well, that a lack of coordination among Labor's agencies responsible for certain JVA provisions has weakened accountability. Also, while Labor has developed a system to monitor program performance, it lacks a strategy for using the information it gathers to make improvements and to help states.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To better ensure that Labor workforce programs are serving veterans as required by JVA, Labor agencies should collaborate to strategically use monitoring results to target guidance and technical assistance to states and local areas most in need of improved performance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Labor concurred with our recommendation, and regional Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) and Employment and Training Administration (ETA) staff jointly conducted a monitoring review of seven state grantees in 2006 and 2007. Development of a joint ETA/VETS monitoring guide is in progress.

    Recommendation: To better ensure that Labor workforce programs are serving veterans as required by JVA, Labor agencies should collaborate to monitor the extent to which all Labor workforce programs are providing priority of service to veterans.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Labor agreed with our recommendation and published regulations on priority of service on December 19, 2008. The regulations stipulate that the Department will monitor for compliance with priority of service, and that the monitoring will be conducted jointly between the Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) and the Labor agency responsible for the program's administration and oversight.

    Recommendation: To better ensure that Labor workforce programs are serving veterans as required by JVA, Labor agencies should collaborate to disseminate best-practice information to states on methodologies to award meaningful performance incentives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Labor concurred with our recommendation. Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) collaborated with the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) to survey states' incentive award practices. The survey was completed in fiscal year 2008. In addition, VETS is analyzing reports submitted by states for program years 2008 and 2009 and conducting follow-ups to obtain additional detailed information on state incentive awards practices. VETS plans to post the best practices to its web site (http://www.dol.gov/vets) by the end of calendar year 2010.

    Recommendation: To better ensure that Labor workforce programs are serving veterans as required by JVA, Labor agencies should collaborate to provide states and local areas with clear guidance and assistance for providing priority of service for all veterans and integrating veterans' staff into the one-stops or other workforce centers.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Labor agreed with our recommendation. The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) jointly sponsored an assessment of veterans' services integration within the one-stop career centers. The Evaluation of Services and Outcomes final report was completed in August 2007 and showed that JVA's priority of service provision and WIA's emphasis on one-stop career centers has improved the workforce system's responsiveness to veterans' needs for employment and training services. To promote integration, the National Veterans' Training Institute has completed initial development of a course entitled Coordinating Veterans' Services. The course has been piloted with state and federal officials and will be delivered in the future pending further revision and approval.

    Recommendation: To achieve results from JVA's provisions regarding veteran hiring practices of federal contractors, Labor should issue regulations as soon as possible and explore effective methods of enforcement.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Labor concurred with our recommendation, and VETS issued draft regulations in August 2006 to implement the Jobs for Veterans Act's (JVA) new reporting requirements for federal contractors. The regulations specify the $100,000 reporting threshold as well as the new categories of covered veterans. Similarly, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued final regulations in August 2007 concerning contractors' affirmative action obligations and requirements to list job openings with the local employment service delivery system. In addition, OFCCP's compliance evaluations and complaints investigations of federal contractors address any discrimination against veterans. OFCCP and VETS are considering innovative methods for monitoring compliance in this area.

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