Statement of Alexis M.
Secretary of Labor
Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education
Committee on Appropriations
United States House of Representatives
May 14, 1997
Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Members of the Sub-Committee:
I am pleased to be here today to discuss the work of the Labor Department and our 1998 Fiscal Year budget request.
This is my first hearing before Congress as the newly confirmed Secretary of Labor, and I have been looking forward to meeting with you. Even more important, I look forward to working with you to improve the lives of America's working families.
I want to work with every one of you -- and in partnership with the business community, the labor community, and civic, charitable, and professional organizations, to make sure that all Americans have the education, the training, and the skills they need to succeed in the new economy. I want all Americans to enjoy a rising standard of living, with the opportunity to build an even better life for their children. And I want to make sure that Americans who are willing to work hard will enjoy the rights and respect, the safety and security, that they deserve.
Together, we have made great progress in helping America's working families build a better future for themselves. The economy is growing steadily. More than 12 million new jobs have been created since January, 1993. Unemployment is at its lowest rate in 23 years.
With the recently negotiated budget agreement, we will cut the deficit by 63 percent -- invest in education and training, health care, and the environment.
Yet, we still face the challenge of helping every working American to participate and prosper in the new economy. The new economy harnesses high technology -- and requires highly skilled workers -- to make the highest quality products and offer the highest-quality services for markets at home and abroad. But, millions of Americans continue to toil daily in the old economy with bare hands and traditional machines, and millions more still seek full-time jobs. It is our responsibility to make sure that all workers -- regardless of how they earn their living today -- have the opportunity to find and hold secure jobs, with good wages, reliable pensions, health benefits and opportunities to improve their skills.
The goals I have set for the Labor Department answer these challenges and build on the successes of the past four years. My goals are:
- First, to equip every working American with the skills to find and hold
good jobs, with rising incomes throughout their lives;
- Second, to help people move from welfare to work;
- Third, to assure that working Americans enjoy secure pensions when they
- Fourth, to guarantee every American a safe and healthy workplace;
- And, fifth, to help working people balance work and family.
Our Fiscal Year 1998 budget request includes the resources we will need to pursue these goals, as well as to improve the accuracy of the economic indicators that guide our department and other federal departments. The total request is $37.9 billion in budget authority, this amount includes $12.8 billion before the Committee and 17,143 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff.
Each of my Assistant Secretaries appeared before you on April 9 and 10 and provided detail on their budget requests. Therefore, my remarks will focus on the major budget enhancements and new initiatives.Goal #1: Lifelong Learning and Skill Development
My first goal is to equip every American worker with the tools they will need throughout their careers to enhance their productivity and raise their standard of living. In the new economy - - and on the edge of a new century -- education can no longer end with a high school degree, or even with a college diploma. Now, education must mean lifelong learning and constant development of new skills.
Our request reflects one of the President's top priorities: investing in education and training to ensure that every American has the schooling and the skills to succeed in the increasingly competitive, global economy. We seek to offer every working American the tools to manage their careers in the new economy. And, we target the high unemployment, low skills, and lack of work experience among youth and adults in some of our poorest communities. The request for lifelong learning and skill development totals $10.2 billion, of which $9.5 billion is for discretionary programs and $741 million is for mandatory programs.
Many young people need help to find work and shoulder family responsibility. We need to help them learn skills and get work experience as they prepare for jobs of the 21st Century. That is why we are continuing to help states develop and implement School-to-Work systems within the mainstream education system, but also encompassing alternative systems for youth who have already or are on the verge of leaving school.
We are helping at-risk youth improve their learning and prepare for careers by incorporating key features of School-to-Work in the DOL-administered learning and work programs for young people, including the Summer Youth Employment and Training Program, the year-round Youth Training Grants Program, and the Job Corps. The intent is to provide more challenging and relevant experiences that mesh classroom-based and work-based learning, offering real-world applications of principles and concepts and the chance to learn job-specific skills with stronger "academic" grounding.
A great deal of progress in the area of School-to-Work system building has been made nationwide in the three years that have passed since the School-to-Work Opportunities Act was signed into law. In those three years, a total of 37 States have made great strides in implementing comprehensive statewide School-to-Work systems. These 37 States in the implementation phase have awarded funds to over 1,000 local communities. These local partnerships are the result of active collaboration between teachers, parents, students, employers, organized labor, colleges and universities, and nonprofit organizations. The number of these partnerships increased 200% between December, 1995 and June, 1996. In addition to these investments, the Departments of Labor and Education have awarded funds directly to over 100 local sites, including over 50 investments in high poverty communities in urban and rural areas. It is expected that all of the remaining States will be brought into the implementation phase with fiscal year 1997 funds.
All of these partnerships are built and sustained by a community-wide commitment to improving academic performance and career preparedness for youth. In Salem County, NJ, the local partnership has drawn in more than a dozen employers, ranging from B.F. Goodrich and DuPont to the Sheriff's Department and small drugstores, to offer on-the-job, afternoon learning experiences for students of the county's five high schools. Teachers, guidance counselors, parents and employers stay in close touch about students' progress; and several businesses have given employees time to help students with schoolwork and train teachers in applied science and math.
As of June, 1996, over 700,000 students in 2,700 high schools around the country were offered classes in which traditional academic subjects are complemented by career-related instruction. For example, in Central High School in Louisville, Kentucky, students like Jessica Green and Spencer McGinniss are arguing court cases in classrooms, as if they were law students. Learning about law as a career field has improved their analytical thinking, teamwork and public speaking skills. In this particular high school, test scores have risen as a result of these curriculum enhancements and an impressive 91% of graduates go on to 2 or 4 year colleges. This number has increased from 79% when career learning began for every student in 1992.
Also as of June, 1996, over 280,000 students in 2,300 high schools report that they have classes in which the connection is made between core academic course work, career- related course work and work-based learning experiences. Such opportunities allow students to see their core academic subjects and career-related instruction applied to the world of work. These experiences can include internships, a student-run business, or community service projects with nonprofit organizations. For example, in Wisconsin, high school students like Steve Lenihan spend three mornings a week at the University of Wisconsin Printing Services, learning the trade of printing with his mentor Doug Weir, and getting advanced-standing credits that he can apply to Madison Area Technical College.
Another of our important programs for youth, the Job Corps, will continue to serve some of the most disadvantaged young people in the U.S. with both school and work-based learning in a residential setting. Job Corps is the nation's largest training program for at-risk youth. In its over 30-year history, the program has served almost two million young people, providing education, vocational training, social skills, counseling and related support in residential Job Corps centers. Over the next two years, with 1996 and 1997 funds, we will be opening eight new Job Corps centers, bringing the total to 118 centers.
The expense to society of impoverished youth, particularly those who do not graduate from high school or get an equivalency degree, is staggering. By one estimate, the total lifetime costs to the broader society of a cohort of 16-24 year-old inner city drop-outs is around $41 billion, including the cost of lost earnings, lost tax revenues, and expenditures by the criminal justice system and for welfare and additional health care. On the human side, the lack of hope is too great a price to pay. Our pact with workers has always been that working hard earns entrance into a productive future and a share of the American dream. We must make that dream attainable to all who are willing to work for it.
We can make a difference. The General Accounting Office last year produced a study of highly regarded local programs. We are gratified that five of six highly regarded local programs identified by GAO receive JTPA funds. The findings in this report reinforce many of the results of recent Labor Department research projects and support the directions toward which we are moving job training programs. They clearly indicate that JTPA training programs in many areas have an extraordinary impact on individuals and communities.
That impact is most vividly captured by individual life stories. Witness the success stories of two individuals who were enrolled in JTPA programs. The first is Cynthia Jones, a participant in the JTPA year-round youth program operated by the Greene County Tecumseh Consortium in Ohio. Cynthia was a single parent of a young son and an AFDC recipient. She decided to enter a computer training program. While in the basic skills component of the program, she raised her reading level nearly 4 grade levels and improved her math skills. After completing the course, she obtained employment as a receptionist with a personnel services firm, and she has since been promoted and is now doing payroll functions. She was recently offered a job by another firm at a substantial increase in pay.
The second is Melodie Rocha-Franco, who participated in the JTPA Program for Economically Disadvantaged Adults in Bangor, Maine. After graduating from high school, Melodie stumbled around for eight years in minimum wage domestic jobs. By her own admission, she lacked confidence and self-esteem. The JTPA-funded Training and Development Corporation Career Advancement Center's Truck, Diesel and Heavy Equipment training program helped to change her whole outlook on life, and provided her with skill training to enable her to get on a career path with a future. Melodie completed the two year Associate Degree Program for heavy equipment mechanics at Eastern Maine Technical College, where she was named student of the year and became the first female President of the Student Senate. Since August 1996, Melodie has been a program coordinator for Women Unlimited, a program to train women in non-traditional occupations, and she now teaches low income women on welfare classes in diesel mechanics and career development.
In his FY 1998 Budget, the President has proposed competitive, national grants to high poverty urban and rural areas with major youth unemployment problems, including designated and prospective Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities. The Youth Opportunity Area grants are time-limited Federal seed funds. These funds would be awarded for local designs based on proven models that show the best chance of substantially increasing employment among youth. These seed funds would leverage State, local, and private resources to sustain public-private efforts to train and employ youth in private sector jobs as an alternative to welfare and crime. We are working with the authorizing committees to determine how best to incorporate this innovative approach in job training reform legislation beginning in FY 1999.
More and more Americans have to continue the hard work of skill-building even after they have completed their formal educations and taken on the other responsibilities of adulthood. We all have heard the stories of middle-level managers and experienced white-collar and factory workers losing their long-time jobs and wondering how they will acquire the skills to find productive work that sustains their standard of living. It is clear -- we must invest in workers' skills so they have the tools to adapt to new technologies and economic changes. Our best companies understand that and know that investing in their workers' skills is the surest path to greater productivity and higher profits.
Although job training reform legislation was not enacted last year, the Department has pressed ahead with reforms to the job training system under current law and funding made available by this Committee and the Congress. One-Stop career centers are places where all Americans will have easy access to reliable, up-to-date information on where the jobs are and what skills are in demand. One-Stops are also a place where workers can obtain ready access to training-related and support services. Employers will increasingly rely on one-stop centers as an important source for recruiting qualified workers for job openings. The Employment Service's universal labor exchange and related assistance are critical job-finding infrastructure for the emerging State One-Stop Career Center networks.
Since November 1994, twenty-four States have begun implementing One-Stop systems through DOL grants. Another nine States will receive implementation grants in FY 1997. Twenty-one remaining States will continue to receive One-Stop Planning and Development funding and technical assistance for eventual receipt of implementation grants.
America's One-Stop Career Center System connects employment, education, and training services into a coherent network of resources at the local, state and national level. This new system links the nation's employers to a variety of qualified applicants and provides job seekers with access to employment and training opportunities next door and across the country. While individual State systems may reflect a range of titles -- No Wrong Door, Workforce Development, Our State "Works!" -- all are affiliated with America's One-Stop Career Center System.
One-Stops respond to customers who demanded: "Give us prompt and courteous service from the receptionist to the Center director, customize service without a lot of paperwork, and provide us with convenient and easy access to information about jobs and career paths." A strong partnership among Federal, State and local governments across the country are successfully responding -- with a total of 287 Centers opened as of March 1997 and more on the way!
In many areas, community colleges and public libraries may also serve as convenient access points to the One-Stop system. Customers can visit the Centers in-person or directly connect to the Center's information holdings through PC or kiosk remote access. For many, an Internet browser is all that's needed.
Connecticut, a recipient of a One-Stop grant in 1994, provides a snapshot of service delivery which recognizes customers' needs in personal and group settings. Specialized workshops are conducted on education and employment exploration, letter writing, mock interviewing, career search and labor market information. Electronic access via computer is provided for filing unemployment benefit weekly claims and obtaining status information on claims and center services. A bulletin board system provides dial-in access to labor market information and the state job bank system. Kiosks are available for conducting self-service job search. Other States provide a similar mixture of quality offerings for their clientele.
Millions searching for new or better jobs, and employers searching for qualified workers, are being connected through America's Job Bank. Customers can access AJB job openings, received from private employers, via the State public employment services from One-Stop Career Centers, community colleges, libraries, shopping malls and via the Internet on personal computers.
Wisconsin has opened over 70 Centers. Wisconsin relies heavily on the analysis and distribution of customer satisfaction results. The State conducts a survey measuring customer satisfaction with its automated JobNet program. It conducts an Extensive Employer survey. The State also conducts an independent Taxpayer Survey. These measuring tools provide valuable input to the State's design (and redesign) of services for its customers. Wisconsin is also the home to a "Local Learning Laboratory" funded by the Department. The Southeastern Wisconsin technical assistance sites of Kenosha, Milwaukee and Waukesha continue to provide visitors with a valuable look at how the welfare-to-work population can receive quality services in a One-Stop setting.
Creating a New System for Workforce Development and Labor Market Transition
Two years ago, President Clinton proposed to dramatically overhaul the complex structure of Federal job training programs by consolidating multiple programs into a single, integrated workforce development system, by providing skill grants or vouchers to adults who need training, and by improving accountability by focusing on results, not process.
This year, the House and Senate authorizing committees have held hearings on job training reform and are working on legislative proposals that build on the broad consensus regarding key portions of last year's proposal. I am especially pleased that the House Committee on Education and the Workforce reported out a bipartisan bill on April 30 which reflects our common goal of building an integrated workforce development system and incorporates principles that are similar to the tenets in the President's G.I. Bill for America's Workers. I look forward to working with this Congress, to gain enactment of this important legislation this year, and working with this Committee in implementing it.Goal #2: Promoting Welfare to Work
As the President laid out in his FY 1998 budget, successful implementation of last year's Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act is a high priority for this Administration. I am particularly pleased that the recently negotiated balanced budget agreement explicitly includes funds for the Welfare to Work Jobs initiative. Thus, my second goal is to begin to successfully implement the welfare reform effort launched last year. In our new system, millions of people must make their way from a welfare check to a paycheck. I started my career helping people move from welfare to work, and I can tell you it will not be an easy task. It will take a profound depth of commitment -- learning what kinds of skills companies are looking for, equipping welfare recipients with those skills, and then convincing employers to hire them -- if we are to succeed. Together with governors and mayors, businesses and unions, churches and community organizations, our goal must be to create opportunities for welfare recipients to find real jobs at fair wages that reward work.
We have requested $756 million in FY 1998 for a new Welfare-to-Work Jobs Challenge which is designed to help States and cities move one million of the hardest to employ welfare recipients into lasting jobs by the year 2000 through job placement and job creation.
The Jobs Challenge will make it possible for many welfare recipients to do what most want to -- work. It will help individuals gain the skills and information to help them get jobs in the private sector and keep them. To be successful, it requires a strong private sector role. Under the Job Training Partnership Act, 640 "employment councils" in place across the country engage over 10,000 private sector volunteers in overseeing the training and job placement of welfare recipients, other low income adults and youth, as well as dislocated workers. We anticipate that States and communities will actively engage these councils -- or their replacements under new workforce development legislation -- in meeting the Welfare to Work Jobs Challenge.
The President's FY 1998 Budget also proposes an increase of $169 million for the JTPA program for low income adults so that additional welfare recipients and other disadvantaged individuals can be served, providing funds in addition to those in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. Already, this program helps many welfare recipients get the training they need to become economically self-sufficient. In Program Year 1995, about 42 percent of those leaving the program were welfare recipients. JTPA has documented success in placing women on welfare in private sector jobs, particularly through on-the-job training. Overall outcomes for welfare recipients are positive too -- 56 percent get jobs when they leave the program, and of these, nearly two-thirds get jobs with fringe benefits. These are individuals like Tracey Taylor, who was a single parent on Aid to Families with Dependent Children when she enrolled in the JOBSWORKS program of the Southeast Tennessee Private Industry Council (PIC). She enrolled in a six-month basic and employability skills development program. While in the program, she served as a mentor for alternative school participants. After completing the PIC program, Tracey was hired as events coordinator at the Chattanooga Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Her $19,000 a year salary has allowed Tracey to support her family and move off welfare.
JTPA has a strong track record for States to consider as they develop plans to transition welfare recipients to permanent employment.
Although not directly tied to one of my goals, the Department's request for an increase in the Unemployment Insurance Service of $289 million is of sufficient size and urgency that I need to draw it to your attention. The requested increase comprises $200 million to help States address the year 2000 computer problem and $89 million for enhanced integrity activities.
The $200 million is part of the year 2000 initiative in the President's budget. The year 2000 problem is particularly acute for the State UI agencies because they are heavily dependent on automated systems to track claimants, collect wage and tax information, determine eligibility, and calculate and pay benefits. Many of these systems are not yet 2000 compatible. Without conversion, they will either calculate benefits incorrectly or, in the worst case scenario, crash. Failure to address this problem would therefore have an extremely detrimental impact on the UI system and unemployed individuals who rely on UI benefits to support themselves and their families.
The integrity functions are vital to the program because they are designed to ensure benefit payment accuracy, detection and collection of overpayments, and detection and collection of under-reported taxes. These activities help keep program costs and employer taxes down. Because FY 1998 would be a start-up year in terms of additional investments in the integrity area, the return would be approximately $118 million. In FY 1999, a similar investment of $91 million in FY 1999 would result in a return of about $158 million.Goal #3: Enhancing Retirement Security
My third goal is to assure that workers are economically secure when they retire. Like skills development, economic security is a lifelong concern. My contemporaries in the "baby boom" generation are beginning to realize that retirement is just over the horizon. We must continue to do all we can to safeguard private pension funds and encourage workers to save on their own for retirement.
Over 150 million participants and beneficiaries depend on the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (PWBA ) to protect their pension, health and other welfare benefits. Employee benefit plans provide critical income and services on which workers and their families rely to protect their financial security. Also, ERISA-covered pension plans are the U.S. economy's single largest source of capital for investment. The quality of the lives of American workers and their families is jeopardized when pension, health, or other vital benefits are not paid as promised. Similarly, everyone suffers when fraud and abuse cause plan assets to be lost. PWBA 's regulatory and enforcement actions are designed to ensure the integrity of employee benefit plans. At the same time, we must be careful that the actions we take do not discourage the formation of new plans or prevent investment of plan assets in new opportunities.
A total of $84.3 million is requested for PWBA , $7.5 million more than in FY 1997. The largest part of this increase, $6.3 million, is for major new responsibilities assigned to the agency by Congress last year with the passage of three health care reform laws. PWBA is responsible for implementing health insurance portability, antidiscrimination, and other reforms under new health benefit laws covering private employers. These resources are necessary if we are to implement these new reforms effectively and provide the public with essential information, and quickly answer their questions about these new requirements.
Other PWBA initiatives include $1 million to provide better customer service with educational and more individualized technical assistance to pension plan participants and beneficiaries who are experiencing problems in obtaining the benefits to which they are entitled; an additional $1.6 million for enhanced enforcement efforts related to the crackdown on the abuses associated with employee contributions to 401(k) plans; and $3 million to complete the development of the Electronic Filing Initiative for Form 5500 series data which will enable employers to submit data electronically, reducing the current reporting burdens, and enhancing PWBA 's ability to safeguard pension funds.
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) ensures that pensioners will receive benefits if their plans terminate with insufficient assets to pay federally guaranteed amounts. With an increased request of $12.3 million, the Corporation can continue to provide its services and to continue recent customer service improvements. I would like to acknowledge PBGC's major achievement of turning the Corporation solvent for the first time in 20 years. PBGC's investment portfolio grew last year by $1.7 billion largely due to high investment returns and additional assets being assumed from new plans trusteed by PBGC. This Committee's support for PBGC funding has contributed to this noteworthy accomplishment.Goal #4: Safe and Equal Opportunity Workplaces
My fourth goal is to guarantee every worker a safe and equal opportunity workplace. I spent a substantial portion of the 1970s helping to overcome barriers to employment opportunity. I spent most of the 1980s advising companies on how to create a climate of understanding so that those hired would stay on and succeed in their corporate cultures. In this intensely competitive new economy, smart employers must utilize all of the talent that is available to them.
We also must do all we can to guarantee safety and health in the workplace as well as other important worker protections. If an employer's practices threaten workers' safety and health, discriminate against women, minorities, veterans or people with disabilities, or deprive workers of fair wages or pension and health benefits, tough enforcement is necessary. But our ultimate goal must be compliance with employment laws, not punishment for its own sake. I last worked with OSHA almost twenty years ago, and I have been reassured to learn how, over the past four years, OSHA has adopted innovative approaches to securing safe and healthy workplaces.
The New OSHA is making substantial changes, fostering cooperative programs with employers and workers; expanding its use of compliance assistance, outreach, education and training; leveraging the agency's limited resources; and improving our ability to protect those workers most in danger. The ultimate goal is to ensure worker protection through an appropriate balance of fair and consistent enforcement, cooperative partnerships, and compliance assistance and training. These are the approaches that make the agency the NEW OSHA -- Partnership and Compliance Assistance; Smarter Fairer Enforcement; and Common Sense Standards. In total, we're requesting a $22.9 million increase in OSHA funding.
The New OSHA offers employers a clear choice between traditional enforcement and other new and expanded intervention tools such as partnership, compliance assistance, outreach and training. The Department's FY 1998 budget request is $8.4 million to build on this commitment: $4.3 million to offer expanded compliance assistance, outreach, and partnership activities, and $4.1 million to enhance the training and education grants program.
The Partnership Initiative builds upon the commitment to offer employers a choice between partnership and traditional enforcement. As part of this initiative, the agency will continue to establish multi-disciplined strategic teams that define, target and implement programs which address those workplaces and work processes with the most acute safety and health problems. The request will also provide additional outreach capabilities directed to the needs of the small business community.
The request also includes an increase of $7.1 million to establish Enforcement Response Teams (ERTs) in each region. This preventative enforcement strategy, exemplified by programmed inspections, remains an essential component of the New OSHA and must be maintained at credible levels if it is to have the intended deterrent effect.
The New OSHA is premised not only on cooperation, but on maintaining a strong and credible enforcement presence. Although most employers make good faith efforts to protect their workers, too many others do little or nothing. Let me share with you a typical week from last January. On Monday, a steel erection worker in Pennsylvania fell 250 feet to his death, and in Ohio, a 22-year old die casting worker was crushed to death inside a hydraulic injection machine. On Tuesday, a young maintenance worker fell through a roof to his death in Illinois. On Wednesday, a 27-year old unloading coal in Oregon was crushed beneath the wheels of a coal car, and in Texas a worker lost his leg when it got caught in an augur at a rendering plant. On Thursday, another Texan fell to his death in a roofing accident. On Friday, two highway paving workers were struck by a vehicle and killed in Florida, four Illinois workers were hospitalized after being overcome by nitric oxide fumes, and a construction worker in Mississippi was killed when struck by a diesel pile hammer. These examples are a quick reminder of why many American workers need their government's help. Thus, a credible enforcement effort remains an important intervention tool and an effective deterrent for OSHA.
MSHA also focuses on the safety and health of workers. The Agency's enforcement program clearly demonstrates that safety and productivity can and do go hand-in-hand. While we will continue to promote miners' safety, and have been making progress in protecting miners' health, miners are still at risk of developing occupational lung illnesses from exposure to respirable coal mine dust or dust containing crystalline silica. To help reduce the risk, an increase of $2.1 million is proposed to improve the Federal sampling program.
An increase of $ 8.6 million is requested for the Employment Standards Administration's Fair Enforcement Strategy which includes $4.8 million for Equal Employment Opportunity initiatives that will improve the enforcement coverage of the 200,000 contractor universe from the current three percent monitoring. The Strategy will eliminate any unnecessary paperwork requirements associated with the written affirmative action plan while increasing the effectiveness of the Administration and enforcement of the requirements; streamline the agency's internal procedures; expedite the review process by targeting the enforcement resources on the most serious violations, and provide for the development and delivery of technical assistance guidance and seminars for Federal contractors and others. The goal of the new rules is to allow flexibility to tailor reviews to focus on the exact issues that warrant further consideration.
To support the integrity and accuracy of prevailing wage and fringe benefits determinations under the Davis-Bacon and related Acts, we are requesting an increase of $2 million to continue and expand on the improvement efforts initiated during FY 1997. I am committed to making improvements in the system which will result in greater timeliness, accuracy and reliability of the resulting prevailing wage determinations.
The Administration is continuing its multi-year initiative to stem the flow of illegal aliens into the United States and the Department has proposed to expand the coverage of its immigration initiative with an increase of $1.3 million to curb illegal immigration in smaller cities, towns and rural areas. This builds on the FY 1997 initiative which provided $15.1 million for this effort. The Department's primary role is to reduce the economic incentive to hire illegal workers through targeted enforcement of existing labor standards in the workplace. Vigorous enforcement of the nation's employment standards serves as a deterrent to illegal immigration by denying some of the business advantages gained through the employment of highly vulnerable and exploitable workers at substandard wages and working conditions. This increase will help reduce use of illegal alien labor by those employers who are seeking an exploitable workforce and could result in increased hiring of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants.
An important ingredient to accomplishing the objectives outlined in Goal # 4-- Safe and Equal Opportunity Workplaces -- is the accompanying request for funds for the Office of Solicitor. Each of our initiatives has a legal support component which is an integral part of the overall strategy. In addition, we have a small business initiative, a $2 million proposal for Employment Law Assistance for Workers and Small Business (E-LAWS), administered in the Policy Office to provide cross-cutting support for these activities by providing the regulated community with the information and tools they need to resolve compliance issues in the workplace. This initiative will assist the Department in meeting the requirements of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA).Goal #5: Helping Working Americans Balance Work and Family
My fifth goal is to help workers balance work and family. I have worked with dozens of major corporations and unions that have adopted policies that support families -- this is simply good business and good family values. The Department has also taken steps to promote this important value. The Women's Bureau, through its Working Women Count Honor Roll Program, established 1600 partnerships with private and not for profit organizations promoting a greater balance of work and family responsibilities. Through these partnerships, over 2 million women and men received benefits of greater access to quality child care, elder care, and flexible training opportunities. To further our commitment, on June 5, 1997, during the National Working Women Summit, approximately 10,000 women will meet and discuss successful strategies addressing future actions with regard to these important needs.
Improving Economic Indicators
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is the principal source of information concerning trends in consumer prices (inflation), and serves as one of the nation's most important economic indicators. The measure is used extensively for economic analysis and policy formulation in both the public and private sectors and has a significant impact on Federal spending and tax revenue. It's important that the Committee provide the President's requested funding level for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA)
I am pleased to be able to say that this Department has always viewed its work with an eye toward accountability. Much progress has been made in preparation for the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) implementation, or as you call it, the Results Act. You heard from each of my Assistant Secretaries during the DOL agency hearings on April 9 and 10 on the progress they have made. Secretary Reich established an environment of achieving results and left the Department well-positioned to meet the ambitious goals that have been established. Let me assure you of my own commitment to continue the performance-based results-oriented approach to goal setting and strategic planning.
I welcome GPRA as a tool to help the Department communicate the value of what it does to the American public as well as to Congress. During a period of much public skepticism about the government's ability to do things right, the government must not only work better, but be shown as working better, if we are to regain public confidence in this institution. GPRA, if successfully implemented, will support our efforts to improve the delivery of services to the public while meeting the rightful expectations of citizens to be treated fairly, responsively, and with good effect. If GPRA is to work as envisioned, government managers must absorb it into day-to-day agency administration and program management. This is really about instilling the concepts of management and good business practices into the way that government works. I look forward to consultations with Congress as well as with our other stakeholders over the next several months as the Department completes its work on its initial strategic plan due to Congress in September.
I've had the opportunity to meet with many of you and want to meet with all of you. I look forward to working with the committee and I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you. I will be happy to respond to any questions.