Senate FY17 Bill Maintains Data Dollars
The Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday passed a Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 appropriations bill for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies. The legislation, touted by leaders as the "first bipartisan Senate Labor-HHS bill in seven years," generally maintains current funding levels for workforce data.
The Department of Labor got one small data funding increase. The bill provides an additional $2.5 million for workforce information and e-tools, bringing the line item total to about $70 million. Funding includes an extra $1.5 million to improve data on occupations and skills provided by the Occupational Information Network (O*Net), and $8.5 million to help states make licenses more portable. The licensing initiative, which started this year, is designed to reduce unnecessary barriers to re-employment created by state licensing requirements.
Funding remains at current levels for two grant programs that support state data: Department of Education's Statewide Longitudinal Data System grants ($35 million) and Department of Labor's Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants ($6 million). The committee report notes concerns about how states are protecting confidential data. It directs the Department of Education to "ensure that its employees, contractors, and grantees, including States that receive funds...adhere to the strictest and highest standards" for data privacy and security.
Bureau of Labor Statistics funding also is steady at $609 million.
The bill sets overall Labor-HHS funding at $161.9 billion, $270 million below FY2016 levels. The House will consider its own Labor-HHS appropriations bill later this month, before members leave for their August recess and national conventions.
WDQC submitted recommendations on funding levels to Congress, and joined with several partner organizations to propose strong support for data in the coming fiscal year.