New Grants to Help States Build or Expand Longitudinal Data Systems

by Jenna Leventoff
August 6, 2015

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has awarded nearly $10 million in its fifth round of Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI) grants to help states build or expand their longitudinal databases. The nine states who received grants are Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.

The DOL expects grantees to use their longitudinal databases to match education and workforce data, improve the quality and breadth of their data, and to analyze the effectiveness of education and employment training programs. "These grants are helping to make our programs more effective and responsive to the needs of industry, while also giving consumers more information about which programs can help them achieve their goals," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez in a news release.

Select projects proposed by states include:

Alaska – prepare reports about nonresident employment and the wage gap between men and woman, topics of particular interest to Alaska policy makers.

Kansas – emphasize social services by integrating, for the first time, data from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) programs into the state’s longitudinal data system.

Rhode Island – develop a Workforce Training Provider scorecard that will enable consumers to make informed decisions about their career pathway.

Tennessee – use data to create dashboards for classes of programs, such as WIOA and Adult Education, that show pre and post program performance indicators.

Washington – conduct research about the state’s labor supply to determine where new or expanding employers find employees, as well as where employees from declining industries are going.

The previous four rounds of funding have provided approximately $36 million to help states build or expand longitudinal databases. Alaska and Tennessee are first-time grant recipients. The other seven states will use fifth round grants to expand existing longitudinal data systems funded by previous WDQI grants.

States can use WDQI grants to supplement funding provided by the U.S. Department of Education’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) Grant Program. Both programs emphasize the importance of data for decision making and provide funds to create or expand longitudinal data systems.