GM 14-053

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Approved by Congress; Native American Workforce Program Maintained

The House and Senate have approved HR 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and it has been sent to the White House for an expected signature. Included in the WIOA is a rewrite of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). In this Memorandum we focus on Title I of the bill, Workforce Development Activities. Attached is the Manager’s explanation of the bill as printed in the June 25, 2014, CONGRESSIONAL RECORD.

We reported in our General Memorandum 14-032 (April 25, 2014) on the wide differences between the House-passed and Senate Committee-approved WIA bills. The House bill would have consolidated or eliminated 35 workforce programs, including the Section 166 Native American workforce program, and put the funding into a state block grant. One percent of funds would have been reserved for tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. The Senate Committee bill would have maintained the existing Native American program. The final agreement as approved by the Senate on June 25 and the House on July 9 is much closer to the Senate Committee version, including maintaining the Section 166 Native American program.

National Program. The WIOA maintains the One-Stop delivery system which coordinates federal workforce development programs and provides services including basic education; classroom and on-the-job training; counseling; job search assistance; and vocational rehabilitation services. There are 3,000 One-Stop centers nationwide. The final bill does not go nearly as far as the original House bill in eliminating programs. The attached Managers explanation of the bill lists the 15 programs that were eliminated.

A change from current law is that states are required to develop unified plans that outline a four-year strategy for meeting requirements of each of the core programs (Workforce Development; Adult Education; Employment Services under Wagner-Peyser; and Vocational Rehabilitation). Plans are to align workforce services to the labor market, business needs, and economic development goals. States may include programs beyond the “core programs” in their comprehensive plan, i.e., Perkins Act and other education and employment and training activities. Local workforce boards are also to submit four-year comprehensive plans to their state. The size of the state and local workforce boards are reduced, and while business interests will still have the majority of seats on the boards, 20 percent of the board members must be workers’ representatives.

Section 116 provides that all core programs are to be assessed by the following performance indicators, levels of performance for which are to be established on a state-by-state basis:
• For adults, the percentage of program participants who are in unsubsidized employment during the second and fourth quarters after exiting the program. For youth, the percentage of program participants in education, training or unsubsidized employment during the second and fourth quarters after exiting the program.
• Median earnings of program participants who are in unsubsidized employment during the second quarter after exiting the program.
• Percentage of program participants who obtain a postsecondary credential or a secondary school diploma while in the program or within a year of exiting the program.
• Percentage of program participants who are in programs that lead to postsecondary credentials or employment.
• Indicators of effectiveness in serving employers.

Native American Program. Section 166 of HR 803 largely tracks current law with regard to the workforce investment program for tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations and maintains provisions regarding funding being distributed in a manner that is consistent with the Indian Self-Determination Act; the specific authorization for tribes to consolidate their WIA funding through Public Law 102-477 consolidated programs; and the requirement for a Native American Employment and Training Council.
HR 803 provides that up to 1 ½ percent of Youth Supplemental workforce funds are for tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations, which is the same as current practice. Native American grantees received approximately $12 million in FY 2014. The authorization for the Youth program nationally will range from $820 million in FY 2015 (same as the FY 2014 appropriation), gradually increasing to $964 million in FY 2020.

Changes in the Native American Program:

Performance Indicators. The main change is that the tribal programs will need to comply with the primary performance indicators set out in section 116 which requires tracking of program participants regarding employment, earnings and subsequent education and training. The Secretary of Labor is to work with grantees to set specific levels of performance. Indicators are to take into account economic conditions, characteristics of the individuals served, other appropriate factors and statistical adjustments made pursuant to a model to be developed by the Departments of Labor and Education.

The Secretary will also, in consultation with the Native American Employment and Training Council, develop an additional set of performance indicators and standards that are specifically geared toward Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians, including taking into account economic and geographic considerations.

Funding Authorization. Under current law funding for the Native American program is “such sums as necessary.” Under HR 803 the authorized amount is specified by year. It is disappointing that the authorization begins in FY 2015 at current low level of $46 million. The authorization would gradually rise to $54 million by FY 2020, an amount which the program used to receive.

Four-year Grants. Another change from current law is that the grants will be for four-year periods as opposed to the current system of two-year grants with the possibility of a two-year extension for programs that have performed satisfactorily.

Assistance to Unique Populations. Finally, under the current Native American WIA program, the Secretary is authorized to provide assistance to American Samoans in Hawaii. Under HR 803 that provision is changed to authorize funding to “Unique Populations in Alaska and Hawaii.” Funding for this purpose is authorized separately from the rest of the Native American program ($461,000 for FY 2015, gradually rising to $542,000 in FY 2020). The provision reads:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary is authorized to award grants, on a competitive basis, to entities with demonstrated experience and expertise in developing and implementing programs for the unique populations who reside in Alaska or Hawaii, including public and private nonprofit organizations, tribal organizations, American Indian tribal colleges or universities, institutions of higher education, or consortia of such organizations or institutions, to improve job training and workforce investment activities for such unique populations.

Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (Title II of the bill). HR 803 reauthorizes this Act. There is no tribal allocation of funds under the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act. Senator Hirono (D-HI) proposed legislation that would have allocated 2.3 percent of funds for tribal colleges and universities and Native Hawaiian education organizations, but that provision did not make it into HR 803.

Vocational Rehabilitation Act (Title IV of the bill). HR 803 amends this Act and maintains the current tribal funding allocation of 1 to 1.5 percent of the state vocational rehabilitation grant amount. In FY 2014, tribes received $37.2 million in vocational rehabilitation funding (equal to one percent of the state grant amount).

Please let us know if we may provide additional information regarding the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.