Budget Praises Data, Leaves Uncertainty

Rachel Zinn
March 16, 2017

The Trump Administration's "skinny budget," released this morning, provides recommended topline funding levels for federal agencies and some details about proposed increases and cuts. The budget proposal pledges to support evidence-based policy and govern based on "real, hard data," but it's not clear how this translates into funding for important programs like grants to support state data systems and production of high-quality labor market information.

The full budget for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18), planned for release in May, likely will provide additional detail about how the Administration hopes to fund and use information about education and the economy.

WDQC's top funding priorities include the Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants, awarded by the Department of Labor to help states generate actionable information about education and the labor market. A recent letter from Rep. Suzanne Bonamici and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester asks colleagues in the House of Representatives to support these data grants and other workforce funding in FY18 appropriations. (Click here to urge your Representative to sign the letter.)

The Administration's budget proposal offers a few details on federal data programs, notably an increase of more than $100 million to help the Census Bureau prepare for the 2020 Decennial Census. 

The proposal calls for a $2.5 billion (21 percent) cut for Department of Labor and a $9 billion (13 percent) reduction for Department of Education funding. Much of the savings will come from elimination of K-12 grants for states, consolidation of aid programs for postsecondary education, and steep cuts for job training grants. It's unclear what overall agency levels mean for sub-agencies like Bureau of Labor Statistics and Institute for Education Sciences, which provide important information about students, workers, and the economy.

The budget document often invokes evidence-based policy as a justification for funding cuts. WDQC hopes the Administration also will support the collection and use of data that can inform increased investment in effective services which help Americans gain skills and contribute to our nation's economy.  

Congress is still working on appropriations for FY17, and may look to the Administration's budget document for guidance on priorities. WDQC recently collaborated with other advocacy organizations on a letter urging Congress to provide sufficient funding for major education and workforce data initiatives in the current year.