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Snowquester Couldn’t Squelch Pay-for-Performance Progress

by Jennifer Jordan   •  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Despite political gridlock, Opportunity Nation is happy to share some progress this week that we hope will increase accountability in a federal program intended to increase worker skills.

As you may know, Opportunity Nation supports pay-for-performance models, in which providers of services receive federal funding after they have shown results for the people they serve, an approach that has received bi-partisan support.

Melanie Anderson, Opportunity Nation’s Director of Government Affairs, worked with other pay-for-performance advocates and reached out to the staff on the House Education and the Workforce Committee (R-IN) on an amendment to a bill to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). WIA is a federal program that provides funding for state and local job training for youth and adults.

On Wednesday, the Committee passed H.R. 803, the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act, with an amendment offered by Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN), that would provide greater focus on pay-for-performance models. The amendment was passed by a voice vote and is scheduled to go before the full House for a vote next week.

While many groups see areas where that the SKILLS Act can be improved and Opportunity Nation is not endorsing the bill, we were pleased to see the inclusion of pay-for-performance, which is a key tenet of our Shared Plan.

Other groups have also advocated for this approach. But Opportunity Nation helped shape the amendment and bring it across the finish line, signaling that our D.C. team is well-positioned to influence future legislation even in this challenging political environment.

The main pay-for-performance provisions in the amendment:

Allow governors to set aside up to 15 percent of WIA funds for employment and training activities and an additional 10 percent for pay-for-performance initiatives at the local level;

Add language that rewards performance based on specific outcomes, such as getting a job, retaining a job, earnings and receiving a degree or industry recognized credential;

Set amounts paid to service providers for each person that meets such goals within a set timeline, including bonuses the provider can use to expand services;

Allow providers to recoup some costs associated with training a participant who has not met a goal, but who made progress.

Jennifer Jordan

Jennifer D. Jordan is Opportunity Nation’s Senior Writer. She shares the campaign’s mission and accomplishments and those of its coalition with diverse audiences, seeking to heighten awareness about expanding economic mobility to more Americans. Read Jennifer's bio.

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