Redesign Federal Support
The bulk of grant funding for state longitudinal data systems goes out through the Department of Education (over $600 million since 2005), while the Department of Labor separately awards a smaller set of grants ($30 million since 2010). Some states report that the technical assistance for these grants is not cohesive and does not encourage enough interagency collaboration at the state level. The federal government could take the following steps to strengthen its support for state data systems:
- Reconsider the current grant structure. WDQC supports continued grant funding specifically for state longitudinal data system development and use. However, having two separate grants going to different state agencies may not be the best strategy. Federal funders could consider an alternative grant structure, such as a single grant competition that is co-managed by the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services.
- New approach to technical assistance. Federal agencies could work together to provide technical assistance for states on longitudinal data system development and usage through a team approach. The National Governors Association policy academies, which bring together cross-agency teams from several states, could serve as a model. Technical assistance should involve experts from state agencies responsible for labor, education, human services and labor market information.
- Leverage competitive grants and federal regulations. Federal agencies can look for opportunities in their competitive grants to require or give extra points to applicants that contribute to the development of state longitudinal data systems. Federal regulations could also be used to encourage state longitudinal data system improvement.