Santa Barbara County 1998-99 Grand Jury Report

Santa Barbara County Workforce Employment System

Released June 10, 1999

 

INTRODUCTION

The federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 (public law 105-220) mandates each state to develop a new workforce development system to replace existing models for delivering workforce-related services. The objective of this legislation is the elimination of duplicated services through the integration of programs available to the public.

The State of California, as authorized by WIA, is delegating this mandate to regional service delivery areas. The model for this new delivery system is based on the One-Stop center concept. In this model, all programs for job-related services are co-located and integrated. This new structure for delivering services will dramatically change the way job-training and other employment-related service providers operate. The legislation mandates that this program be fully implemented by July 1, 2000.

OBJECTIVE

To highlight issues inherent in planning and implementing a workforce system in the County of Santa Barbara as required by the Workforce Investment Act and to raise the consciousness of the participants during the development process.

PROCEDURE

The Grand Jury interviewed county administrative staff and department heads, representatives of the Employment Development Department of the State of California, private consultants, members of the One-Stop consortium and a consultant hired by the County of Santa Barbara to facilitate the process of implementing the One-Stop centers. The Grand Jury also attended meetings of the One-Stop consortium.

The Grand Jury reviewed the Workforce Investment Act and other legislation relating to the Act, draft federal guidelines for WIA, numerous articles on the WIA and reports prepared for the County One-Stop consortium.

OBSERVATIONS

Background

The Grand Jury found that there are several public and nonprofit providers of job training and other workforce-related services in the county. Providers include the Department of Social Services, the Job Training Network, the state’s Employment Development Department (EDD) and Department of Rehabilitation and the community colleges. Programs include Welfare to Work, vocational rehabilitation, post-secondary vocational education, community service block grants, adult education and literacy and others. Most of these programs offer workforce-related services funded by grants that limit their services to specific populations. This type of funding is known as categorical funding.

The WIA authorizes a new workforce development system. It requires all states to have state Workforce Investment Boards (WIB) and plans for developing a new system for the delivery of workforce and youth activities by July 1, 2000. States can delegate the responsibility to local service delivery areas to develop their own workforce systems (reporting to a local WIB) through the use of a One-Stop delivery system.

In the new system there is a significant change in emphasis on the structure of the system and a major change in thinking. The new model addresses the universal client (all job seekers) and is designed to be driven by the private sector. Under the old programs, categorical funding was provided to offer specific services to targeted populations. This categorical funding will still be retained. This model will serve targeted populations as well as the general public. Community assessment of employment needs should serve as the basis for the training and services provided by the One-Stop center.

The One-Stop centers, the core of the new system, will be designed to provide information for the universal client. Other services will include counseling, skill assessments, training, job search assistance or referrals to other programs. Services may be limited by the categorical imperatives of the funding programs, but they will be based on each client’s needs.

The law contains specific language about which programs must be included in the new system and sets standards for accountability. Performance measures are to be developed to measure results and provide for continuous improvement. The local workforce development systems will be measured against standards for success in job placements, retention of clients in jobs, earning gains and skill attainments of trainees. The goal of this legislation is to deliver improved service by organizing existing, fragmented programs into an integrated system that meets customer needs and demands.

In California, each service delivery area must have a Workforce Investment Board, responsible for:

In Santa Barbara County the chief local elected official is the Board of Supervisors.

The WIB must be composed of no less than 51% private-sector members. The remainder of the WIB must be composed of One-Stop partners specifically mandated by federal guidelines.

Current Status

Santa Barbara County has applied to be a service delivery area under WIA. Although the county has not received approval for this designation, approval is likely because they were previously designated as a service delivery area under a prior federal program.

For the last four years, in anticipation of new legislation, a consortium consisting of twelve partners has been meeting with the intent of developing a One-Stop system to provide work-related services. Now, federal and state legislation has placed a deadline on the implementation of One-Stop systems.

The consortium, using development grants available for One-Stop systems under WIA, retained a consulting firm to report on the status of the One-Stop development and offer strategies and guidelines for implementation. In June 1998, the consultant published a report that identified specific areas for development and identified partners as lead agencies for various elements of the One-Stop system development. The report also included tentative timelines for implementing key aspects of the process.

In response to the consultant report, recruitment has begun for the Workforce Investment Board, one of the key elements of the program. In addition, the county has retained a coordinator for the project under a state development grant. The funding for this position expires September 1, 1999.

Once the recruitment process for the WIB is completed and potential members have been nominated, a slate of board members will be presented to the Board of Supervisors for approval in July 1999.

The One-Stop consortium meets monthly as a group and, in subcommittees, as needed. The subcommittees include marketing, technology, case management, governance and site steering committees. Two sites have been selected for One-Stop centers, Santa Maria and Santa Barbara.

Identified Issues

As part of the ongoing development of the One-Stop center, issues have arisen which the consortium is working to resolve through its subcommittees. Those issues fall into four areas:

A. System Governance

The One-Stop system involves agencies from several levels of government, and there is no clearly defined lead agency. The Board of Supervisors is the designated fiscal agent and also agreed to jointly plan, implement and support a local One-Stop system. While the supervisors appoint members to the WIB and delegate certain powers to the WIB, they must certify and agree with decisions made by the WIB. However, the Board of Supervisors has no authority over some of the partners, such as state agencies and private not-for-profit agencies that may be included in the One-Stop system. This collaboration of a variety of agencies reporting to different authorities creates an environment where true integration is difficult. The One-Stop operator must be the coordinator of all activities and must have authority to direct all partners. There could be reluctance on the part of state and private agencies to submit to county governance. In addition, not all partners are equal. Some partners, such as EDD, may offer significantly more services than other partners. The question then arises: should decision-making capabilities be based on proportionate participation or on a single vote for each partner?

The current suggested organizational structure, which requires approval by the Board of Supervisors, calls for:

This organizational structure, by default, gives the Board of Supervisors the oversight of the program and creates potential conflicts for partners who are also WIB members.

The Workforce Investment Act calls for the WIB to select the One-Stop operator with the agreement of the Board of Supervisors. The current model offered suggests the Board of Supervisors will select the One-Stop operator.

Under the Workforce Investment Act there is little more than one year to fully implement the new system. Ideally, the programs will connect and blend their resources and activities. Partners at One-Stop centers will integrate services and activities, rather than merely co-locate at a single site. As separate programs are converted to this system, the intent is that boundaries between the programs will blur and functional units will become focused on how they contribute to achieving system goals. This method of doing business requires that each partner be willing to collaborate with other partners to provide services that are seamless for the client. Previous program restrictions and governance issues must be put aside to serve the client appropriately.

B. Funding

Funding for the One-Stop center comes from a variety of sources. Planning grants and a technology grant paid for early program development. Ongoing funding will come from funding streams for programs each partner brings to the One-Stop system. Administrative costs will be shared on a mutually-agreed-upon basis and memorialized in memorandums of understanding executed between partners. Even though both the federal and state governments have mandated a new, integrated workforce system, no additional funding is specifically identified for ongoing operations of the One-Stop system.

A significant issue exists because programs being incorporated into the One-Stop centers are funded with individual funding streams. The draft federal guidelines call for partners to share overhead expenses proportionate to the use of the system by individuals.

These funding streams are specifically dedicated to targeted populations and compliance with program restrictions creates a dilemma for the partners when allocating expenses and sharing program costs. To further complicate the issue, programs have inconsistent timing both in terms of funding allocations and planning and reporting. In addition, while the goal is to serve the universal client, categorical funding cannot be used for activities other that those authorized by the funding source. These programs, created by the federal and state governments, were never intended to be part of an integrated system. The burden is on local government to deliver integrated workforce preparation services in an environment that is complex because of the multiplicity of programs that now exist.

C. Case Management and Recordkeeping

Merely locating multiple agencies and programs at a single site does not meet the intent of the legislation. To deliver truly integrated services, a shared, electronic recordkeeping system must exist, tracking common elements for case management of services received by each client. This front-end software system for client registration, evaluation, assessment and tracking is fundamental to the success of the program.

Currently, the partners in the One-Stop have not agreed on a mutually acceptable solution to this problem. Many agencies cite client confidentiality and are reluctant to allow access to their primary databases. Also, different forms and formats for performance outcomes, case management, reporting and accounting for partners’ programs make it difficult to find common elements which will satisfy every partner’s need for information.

Once a recordkeeping or database system is selected, other practical aspects of operating a One-Stop center must be considered. There must be an organized approach to receiving clients, securing initial information and referring the client to the appropriate partner for services. These are not program-specific activities and must be shared by the partners. Memorandums of understanding between the partners are planned to clarify responsibilities in this area.

C. Transition year management

The period July 1999 through June 2000 is a transition year for the workforce development system in the county. While much of the background work has been done, the challenge is to manage the process in progress in order to fully implement the federal and state mandate by July 1, 2000.

During its study, the Grand Jury observed that the consortium is making progress but felt it was essential that there be a focal agency or individual identified to ensure that a variety of threads are pulled together in a workable fabric. Other than the coordinator hired by the county, no one person or agency has been identified for this role. Under the current governance structure, which will be suggested to the Board of Supervisors, a One-Stop operator would be selected prior to the selection of the WIB. This individual would oversee the One-Stop system, interact with the existing consortium and report directly to the County Administrator.

The Grand Jury repeatedly heard that once the WIB is in place, they would develop a strategic plan for the workforce development system. This strategic plan may come too late in the planning cycle to be effective in the implementation process; the WIB will not be selected before August 1999, although the One-Stop centers are currently being designed and are scheduled for near-term implementation.

As of the date of this report, the state has not adopted detailed legislation or published guidelines for implementing a workforce system and the federal government has only released draft guidelines. This lack of guidance makes it difficult for local planners to develop a comprehensive system that will meet all the requirements of those guidelines, once published. However, the deadline for implementation remains less than one year away. Time delays in planning will result in less than satisfactory results. To meet that deadline, it is imperative that there are no lapses in the process of developing and implementing the system.

Public–Private Partnerships

Central to the operation of an effective public workforce development system is private-sector involvement.

One element of private-sector involvement is its participation in the Workforce Investment Board, setting policy and overseeing the One-Stop centers. In this context, community organizations, local agencies and private-sector associations must reach agreement to form a working partnership for the purpose of achieving a common vision and pledge to use the resources within their jurisdiction to promote that vision.

This will take significant cultural change on the part of the public agencies and compromise between all parties involved. Too often in the past, public-private partnerships have failed because the multiplicity of programs, conflicting agency goals and differing performance measures are seen by the private sector as uncoordinated, bureaucratic and self-serving. Without strong leadership and commitment on the part of the private sector, the WIB will not be a factor in directing the course of the One-Stop system. To date, the One-Stop project team has not involved the private sector in the development of the workforce system in any significant way. This is unfortunate as the WIB must have real power and access to the Board of Supervisors in order to attract influential private-sector volunteers. Creating a system to serve one sector of the population without significant input from it members could repeat past mistakes that have led to ineffective public-private partnerships.

Another element of private-sector involvement is the development of a private-sector user base to provide information, hire clients and provide feedback about the job market to the One-Stop operator. To do this effectively, the program must be designed to be responsive to the needs of the business community and add value to their operations.

Well-planned marketing programs are required to reach the right user markets and attract competent, influential private sector individuals to the WIB. In addition, the private sector must be educated about the value of the workforce development system for the community. The value of the program has the stated long-term goal of "increasing employment, retention and earnings of participants, increasing occupational skill attainment by participants which will result in the improvement of the quality of the workforce, reduce welfare dependency and enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the community."

CONCLUSION

Santa Barbara County is mandated by the state and federal governments to develop an integrated workforce system. It presents a challenging opportunity for the community to reduce or eliminate duplicated services and at the same time provide the community with a workforce system that is sensitive to the needs of the unemployed, the underemployed and the business community.

The new workforce system model emphasizes integration of services through collaboration between diverse public and private agencies. Each one must be willing to accommodate the needs of the other. Public agencies in particular must be willing to give up their existing focus on serving discrete populations and adjust their underlying philosophies to serve a universal client base. This will be particularly challenging, as there has been no corresponding change to the allocation formulas for funding.

Issues have been identified that must be resolved in order for the system to succeed. They include, but are not limited to:

A good start has been made by the existing consortium in developing the One-Stop system. The next few months, however, will be pivotal. While a consultant is currently coordinating the One-Stop development, no WIB has been selected. It is essential that the momentum not be lost and the appropriate bodies make the key decisions. Major issues must be resolved prior to the July 2000 deadline and, in fact, should be resolved before the One-Stop centers begin functioning. Failure to resolve identified issues could cause the delivery of One-Stop services to be fragmented and not adequately address the needs of the clients. The success of this program depends on acceptance by job seekers and employers. To be accepted, the program must provide a seamless system that is accessible and effective. Timing and follow-through are critical to the successful development of the workforce system in Santa Barbara County.

FINDINGS AND
RECOMMENDATIONS

Finding #1:

There is no lead agency or individual responsible for implementation of the One-Stop system.

Recommendation #1:

The Board of Supervisors and the One-Stop consortium should advocate and promote the new federally mandated activities until the WIB appoints a One-Stop operator capable of carrying out those responsibilities.

Finding #2:

The Board of Supervisors intends to appoint the One-Stop operator prior to the selection of the WIB.

Recommendation #2:

To comply with federal guidelines, the Board of Supervisors should defer the selection of the One-Stop operator until the WIB is selected.

Finding #3:

There has not been significant input from the business community in the development of the One-Stop system as called for by the Workforce Investment Act.

recommendation #3:

The One-Stop consortium should immediately recruit private industry and community partners and involve them in the planning and development of the One-Stop system.

Finding #4:

The One Stop consortium has no stated timeline dates for resolution and implementation of WIA issues.

Recommendation #4:

The One Stop consortium should create a timeline for issues identified to be resolved by July 2000, develop a plan for their resolution and give target dates for completion.

AFFECTED AGENCIES

Board of Supervisors

Findings: 1, 2

Recommendations: 1, 2,

County Administrator (for One Stop Consortium)

Findings: 1, 2, 3, 4

Recommendations: 1, 2, 3, 4