FY18 Budget Eliminates Workforce Data Grants

Rachel Zinn
May 24, 2017

The President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) calls for significant cuts to workforce and postsecondary education programs, including elimination of the $6 million Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI) grants.

The Budget, released yesterday, fills in program-level details for the "skinny budget" agency toplines published in March.

It maintains funding at $34 million for the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, but zeroes out the companion WDQI program at the U.S. Department of Labor, which helps states to upgrade data for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) reporting and conduct research to improve multiple workforce programs. Budget documents acknowledge that WDQI grants support data systems that "have provided valuable information to consumers, practitioners, policymakers, researchers and evaluators about the performance of education and workforce development programs," and justifies their elimination only by saying that "the Budget shifts responsibility to States" for these systems.

Other programs that produce critical data on workers and the economy are generally level-funded. The Budget maintains funding at $68 million for the Department of Labor's line item for workforce information and electronic tools, and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) funding stays about the same at $608 million. Even though funding is maintained, the agency's Budget In Brief notes that "BLS may need to implement programmatic reductions that may temporarily affect the quality and quantity of select BLS products."

The Budget shifts resources within the $1.5 billion Census Bureau request to increase funding for the 2020 Census by $128 million. It cuts allocations for current surveys and the American Community Survey.

Although the Budget includes a chapter about the importance of data and evidence, WDQC is concerned that requested funding levels do not adequately support the development of high-quality workforce data. We will help educate members of Congress about data-related programs as they consider the President's Budget and determine FY18 appropriations. 

For information on proposed Budget reductions for job training grants, career and technical education, and other programs, read this blog from National Skills Coalition.