WIOA Rules Address Performance

by Rachel Zinn
April 7, 2015

Proposed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) regulations posted on the Federal Register website last week establish the foundation to more effectively use wage records for performance reporting.

The draft rules are split between five Notices of Proposed Rulemaking. Most of the significant provisions on data and performance reporting are contained in the joint guidance notice or the Department of Labor activities notice.

In Sec. 603.2, the regulations clarify that individual Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage records may be shared with “public officials” at a variety of education entities for performance reporting required by WIOA or other laws. These include state education agencies, postsecondary commissions, Boards of Regents, and technical or community colleges.

This clarification will facilitate states matching UI wage records with student data to report aggregate outcomes for program completers. Aggregate employment outcomes are important to help WIOA participants pick training programs that lead to good jobs, and help policymakers see that programs are getting results.

The rules do not allow disclosure of individual UI wage records to non-public institutions (for-profit or non-profit). However, these types of training providers may send individual wage records to a state education agency that also gets UI wage records and could calculate aggregate performance.

In their discussion of the proposed rules, the Departments of Education and Labor also propose changes to the Wage Record Interchange System (WRIS) to improve reporting on WIOA participants across state lines. The Departments “intend to engage in a renegotiation of WRIS data sharing agreements with States, which will allow States to conduct interstate wage matches for all WIOA programs.”

Other notable clauses on data and performance include:

  • Performance reporting. States are required to report on key education and employment outcomes for WIOA program participants, and must provide access to performance reports on eligible training providers. States may face sanctions for late or incomplete reporting.

  • Adjusting performance targets. For all WIOA programs, negotiation of performance targets will include use of a statistical model that adjusts outcomes based on economic and participant characteristics. The proposed adjustment factors are described in Sec. 677.170 and the Departments are seeking comment on these factors and processes for vetting and updating the model.

  • Evaluations. The regulations attempt to strengthen federal agencies’ ability to access data to assist with program evaluation. States are required to share UI wage records for some federal evaluations under proposed Sec. 603.6, and the Department of Labor intends to work with the Census Bureau to investigate access to wage records used for its Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) program.

  • Labor Market Information. The rules affirm in Sec. 652.300 the responsibility of the Secretary of Labor to “oversee the development, maintenance, and continuous improvement of the workforce and labor market information system.” In addition, Sec. 652.302 directs the Secretary to develop standard definitions for state wage record data, which would make this valuable information more consistent and usable. 

WDQC will continue analyzing the proposed regulations in the coming weeks and will work with our partners to submit comments that build on our earlier recommendations. Beginning April 16, the Departments will accept comments for 60 days through www.regulations.gov