2011 DOL Budget - Q&A Session with Secretary Solis Archive
12:31 Moderator: Thanks for joining today's chat. Feel free to submit questions here in advance. The event will go live beginning at 1:00.
1:08 Secretary Solis: Welcome! Thank you for spending some time with me today to discuss the Department of Labor’s FY 2011 budget request. As some of you know, this is the third live chat I’ve done at the Department, and I really enjoy them because I get to hear directly from you.
Like that of any agency, business, or organization, our budget is based on numbers, but a budget is much more than that. It tells a story. In fact, our budget is an expression of the Department’s priorities, and further underscores our commitment to you—the public we serve. With that “said”, I’m looking forward to your question, lets get started!
1:10 Comment From Gail Cinquegrani, BNA: What is the Labor Department's total budget request for FY 2011 and how does it compare with the previous year's budget?
1:10 Secretary Solis: Thanks, Gail. The Department's FY 2011 budget request is $116.5 billion. That's comprised of $14.0 billion for discretionary programs and $102.5 billion for mandatory programs. That compares with $179.3 billion for mandatory programs and $14.3 billion for discretionary programs in FY2010.
The reduction in mandatory programs of $77 billion can be attributed to a decline in unemployment insurance benefit payments. On the discretionary side, the reduction of $300 million overall reflects one-time spending in FY2010. The budget includes increases for our worker protection programs, workforce investment programs, international labor programs, and new initiatives for a state-paid leave fund and employee misclassification.
1:10 Comment From Jerry Geisel: Is the administration proposing a third extension of the 65% federal COBRA premium subsidy to laid-off employees? If so, how would the latest extension work?
1:10 Secretary Solis: Although the Administration hasn't taken a formal position on an additional COBRA extension, we note that in the Jobs Bill currently pending in the Senate there are provisions for an additional extension.
1:14 Comment From Stephen Lee, OSHR: In light of today's budget, what action can we expect OSHA to take on its Voluntary Protection Program, which many in the regulated community believe offers a cost-effective way to reduce workplace risks?
1:14 Secretary Solis: OSHA is proposing to significantly reduce direct federal funding of the agency’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) while working closely with the Agency’s stakeholders both to identify and secure alternative forms of funding. We plan to move 35 CSHO’s from cooperative programs to work directly on enforcement activities.
We think the Voluntary Protection Program is making a valuable contribution to workplace safety. These are companies that go above and beyond OSHA requirements and they all of workplace safety and health programs that should serve as a model for the rest of American companies. But we are facing some very difficult budget choices. We need to decide whether we will spend our limited resources on supporting those companies who really “get it,” who are doing a great job at protecting their employees, or do we spend our scarce resources on companies that disregard workplace safety and allow workers to die in situations that could easily have been prevented.
1:15 Comment From Neil Bomberg: Is it possible to receive more specific information on Workforce Investment Act funding? Specifically, how much will be made available for dislocated workers, disadvantaged adults, and youth, and of youth funding how much will be available for a summer jobs program?
1:15 Secretary Solis: Thanks, Neil. The details of our Workforce Investment Act request are available in the Congressional Justification documents on this site. The increased investment in WIA is targeted to two Workforce Innovation Funds, one for adults and dislocated workers and another for youth. These include opportunities for competitive grants for summer and year-round employment opportunities for youth.
1:15 Comment From Michael W. Wyand: DOL/Treasury released their RFI regarding annuities for defined contribution plans and IRAs. Is there any references in the 2011 budget (DOL?) regarding annuities? Also, is there any reference in the budget to other specific dol retirement rules, proposals, etc.?
1:15 Secretary Solis: Yes, there are references in our budget in the section in which we describe our Policy and Compliance Assistance activity (see EBSA - p. 33 in the document posted at www.dol.gov). We talk about our efforts to solicit information on annuities and the other regulatory items we are working on.
1:16 Comment From Kelsey Walter: Why is the Connumity Service Employment for Older Americans or SCSEP programs taking such a large cut? Down 225 million from 825 to 600...
1:16 Secretary Solis: SCSEP received a large, one time 225 million dollar increase in FY 2010. ETA has several strategies to adjust to the requested FY 2011 amount. First, we plan to help participants with additional funds, find unsubsidized jobs which as the economy picks up. Second, as part of the transition planning that will be done with each participant, some will be transferred to the one-stop system and other supportive services. Third, some that still require a full range of SCSEP services may be transferred to the regular SCSEP program, with new funding available 2011.
1:16 Comment From Michael W. Wyand: While DOL and Treasury evaluate annuities, is there any consideration being given to "phased retirement."
1:16 Secretary Solis: We assume that this will be raised by the commentators who respond to our RFI.
1:17 Comment From Sarah S.: Can you explain how the 2011 budget will allow the Wage and Hour Administration will improve its complaint-handling procedures, including allowing complainants to file complaints electronically and giving investigators better tools as recommended by the GAO?
1:17 Secretary Solis: Thank you, Sarah. Yes, the resources provided for in the President's budget will allow the Wage and Hour Division to better address its complaint-handling procedures, including integrating new technologies and tools into the process.
1:20 Comment From allen evans: Cab we expect to see additional Summer YOuth Employment Funds?
1:20 Secretary Solis: Thank you for asking this great question. The summer youth program is one of my highest priorities in the Department. In FY 2011, the Employment and Training Administration will continue the focus on summer employment opportunities initiated with Recovery Act funds during the summer of 2009. ETA will award competitive grants to local workforce investment boards through the Youth Innovation Fund to support summer and year-round employment opportunities. With these funds we expect to be able to award 30 - 50 grants.
1:20 Comment From Ryan Hess, ETR: Comparing the increases in funding for the WIA adult, dislocated worker and youth programs to the new 5 and 15 percent set-asides for the Workforce and Youth Innovation funds, it appears that the amount that's left available for state allocations would represent flat-funding for the adult and dislocated worker programs and a $52.8 million reduction for the youth program. Can you confirm and comment on this, perhaps explaining the innovation funds further?
1:20 Secretary Solis: Thanks, Ryan. The increases in WIA for the Workforce and Youth Innovation funds are the first increases these programs have seen in many years. While they are targeted to competitive grant opportunities, state and local workforce agencies will have the opportunity to demonstrate promising new ideas and replicate proven practices with these funds. Our appropriations' language addresses the issue you identified within the youth program and will assure that local areas are not disadvantaged by this proposal.
1:20 Comment From Guest: How does the budget help the US workforce become more competitive with BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, & China) countires?
1:20 Secretary Solis: There are two main ways that the Department of Labor's budget will help America's workers. First, the investments will provide learning opportunities and a broad array of services to help workers acquire the skills they need to find new jobs or better jobs quickly and support the workforce needs of employers particularly in high growth and emerging sectors such as clean energy. Second, we are also working to improve the labor standards and working conditions of workers abroad, so that US workers do not have to compete on the basis of unacceptable conditions in other countries. For example, we will be launching programs to monitor conditions in export factories and post the results on the internet so that there is no way to hide exploitative conditions.
1:21 Comment From Anonymous: How does the budget help the US workforce become more competitive with BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, & China) countries?
1:21 Secretary Solis: See answer to 12:56 guest.
1:22 Comment From allen evans: Thank you Secretary Solus,
1:24 Comment From Sue Abbondnate: Will there be more on-site compliance evaluations by the OFCCP?
1:24 Secretary Solis: Yes, the OFCCP plans to investigate both individual and systemic discrimination cases. We also intend to conduct throurough and complete investigations. Because of the 2010 budget OFCCP will hire an additional 200 employees, most of whom are compliance officers. These activities are part of my vision of Good Jobs for Everyone.
1:24 Comment From Gail Cinquegrani, BNA: How much money will DOL get from the ARRA in FY 2011? What percentage will go to ETA? Is this funding listed separately in the budget request?
1:24 Secretary Solis: Thanks again for another good question, Gail. Recovery Act authority expires at the end of FY2010 so there are no new resources in the 2011 request. There are, however, additional resources ($10.7 million) requested in the 2011 Employment and Training Administration's (ETA) Program Administration account for the Department's ongoing management responsibilities related to the Recovery Act.
1:25 Comment From Sara D: What is the department's plan for the proposed $10 million increase for OSHA's federal enforcement programs? How will it be allocated?
1:25 Secretary Solis: OSHA will be hiring an additional 25 inspectors in 2011 and moving an additional 35 from compliance assistance activities to enforcement. In FY 2011, OSHA expects to conduct a total of 42,250 Federal inspections. An estimated 2,650 of these will be the result of new CSHOs hired during the current fiscal year.
1:25 Comment From Guest: The Department expects to hire about 30 employees in EBSA. Are these investigator positions and will these positions be filled across the board or in certain areas (i.e. East/West Coast, Regional Offices, etc.)
1:26 Secretary Solis: No, these are not investigator positions. Eighteen of the positions are benefit advisors to address the growing number of calls from the public and a significantly greater demand for outreach, education and assistance. These people will be in the field, throughout the country. Twelve of the positions will be used to undertake increased activity related to health care issues, including regulations, technical assistance, compliance assistance and interpretive guidance.
1:27 Comment From Kelly: Where is the 2011 DOL Budget information, and detailed budget documentation that was suppose to be available at 12:30 pm?
1:27 Secretary Solis: It's all posted here on the Web site.
1:28 Comment From Guest: Can you tell us more about what has happened to funding for the Career Pathways Grants?
1:28 Secretary Solis: Thank you, Guest. The Administration is extremely supportive of the American Graduation Initiative which provides funding for this activity. Community colleges and other educational institutions are a critically important part of the workforce system, and we look forward to working with the Department of Education to ensure that resources are provided to support career pathways.
1:29 Comment From Melanie Waddell: What budget initiatives will deal directly with retirement income issues and 401(k) plans?
1:29 Secretary Solis: These initiatives are discussed in detail in EBSA's section of the DOL budget document. See pages 13 through 20 within the document posted at www.dol.gov/budget.
1:30 Comment From Brenda Russell: Will DOL provide additinal written information on the Administration's budget similar to the briefing materials provided inprevious years? I'm interested in additional informational materials for the ETA. Thnaks.
1:30 Secretary Solis: The Department of Labor is posting all FY 2011 budget materials online at www.dol.gov/budget.
1:32 Comment From Guest: What is the new"WIA Innovation Fund" and how will it work?
1:32 Secretary Solis: The new WIA Innovation Fund will support reforms in WIA and ensure its continued improvement. It is a partnership between the Department of Labor and the Department of Education to provide financial incentives for states in local areas to break down barriers among programs, to test new ways of delivering service, and improve the outcomes for both workers and employers. We are excited about creating opportunities to advance service delivery, particularly for those individuals with multiple barriers to employment and youth who are disconnected from school and from work. The fund proposes to direct a 5% contribution each from the adult formula program and the dislocated worker form of the program and a larger share of 15% from the youth formula program . Competitive grants will support efforts to test various strategies and we will broadly disseminate information about what works.
1:33 Comment From tim johnson: how will the budget affect davis-bacon workers and employees?
1:33 Secretary Solis: Tim, following implementation of the Recovery Act, the Wage and Hour Division trained and retrained its investigative staff to aggressively enforce the Davis Bacon provisions on federally funded and assisted construction projects. This budget request will allow the Wage and Hour Division to continue this effort in 2011.
1:34 Comment From Laura Fortman: Is there additional information available about the paid leave fund grants?
1:34 Secretary Solis: Thank you, Laura. The budget includes $50 million for incentives and start-up funds for states to establish state paid-leave programs. There is an enormous demand for these programs. Nearly half of all private sector workers do not have paid sick leave to care for themselves, and even fewer have leave available to care for another family member when they are ill. Millions of workers risk losing pay and/or their jobs when they are sick or their children are sick. In addition, businesses benefit from these programs. The programs enable them to retain valuable employees, reduce turnover and absenteeism, and increase employee loyalty and morale. Additional information is available in the Congressional Budget Justification for the Employment and Training Administration.
1:34 Comment From Kevin McGowan, DLR: Under the president's proposal, will OFCCP get a budget increase in FY2011 above the $103 million approved for FY2010? If so, in what areas, including hiring, does OFCCP plan to direct the increased resources?
1:34 Secretary Solis: The fiscal year 2011 increase is designed to maintain the more than 200 new employees who are being hired this year. These new employees will restore the OFCCP personnel back to its 2001 staffing level.
1:34 Comment From Pat Schaeffer EEOIMPACT: I understand that OFCCP has a pending RFP for development of a comprehensive integrated information system that would capture all OFCCP business functions related to contractors' compliance reviews. Will the FY 2011 budget have any impact on this proposal moving forward?
1:34 Secretary Solis: No.
1:35 Comment From Guest: The biggest threat to American Jobs over the last 20 years, is the cheap labor overseas. We enforce a minimum wage here and have prevailing wage laws for public projects. Is there any plans to enforce wages in overseas firms, or tariff imported goods to take away this wage imbalance that takes American jobs?
1:36 Secretary Solis: Great question. I’m excited to tell you about our new plans to address these systemic problems. First, our trade agreements include obligations for our trading partners that require respect for workers’ rights. But those clauses have not always been enforced. We intend to enforce our trade agreements, including their labor obligations. Secondly, we are also going to use $20 million in newly requested funds for FY 2011 to launch monitoring programs in export factories overseas and post these results on the internet. That way there will be no way to hide exploitive working conditions.
1:36 Comment From michael w. wyand: Do you expect, following the annuity RFI, that both the DOL and Treasury will work in tandem throughout and whatever actions they take, that every effort will be made to avoid one department implementing rules but plan sponsosrs can't do anything because they are waiting on a necessary and related IRS rule?
1:36 Secretary Solis: Thanks, Michael. The answer is yes we will work together with Treasury.
1:36 Comment From Guest: With the increased focus on OSHA, how will this affect the State Plan States.
1:36 Comment From Guest: Your presentaion indicated 192 additional OSHA enforcement personnel in FY2010 and 60 additional OSHA enforcement officers in FY2011. Are any of these additional positions in State Plans? If not, what is being done to to secure funding and additional positions for State Plans in FY2011 and beyond since most States are in the process of reducing their Budgets?
1:36 Secretary Solis: As OSHA announced in a Congressional hearing last year, the agency will be conducting special studies of all of its state plan programs. Based on the result of those studies, OSHA will decide how to change its state oversight policies. The President is also requesting an additional $1.5 million to support OSHA state plans in FY 2011.
1:37 Comment From Greg w/ Rep. Dingell: Are there any increases in the Workforce Investment Act or the National Emergency Grants?
1:37 Secretary Solis: Yes, Greg. There are increases in WIA. These are targeted to two workforce innovation funds that will allow for the demonstration of promising new ideas and the replication of proven practices. Last year, we received an increase in national emergency grant funding and that increase is maintained in FY 2011.
1:39 Comment From Kevin: Can you please share whether or not there will be openings for investigators in the Wage & Hour Department for NY and NJ areas in the near future?
1:39 Secretary Solis: Thanks for the question, Kevin. The FY2010 enacted appropriations included resources for significant hiring in our worker protection agencies including Wage and Hour Division. The FY2011 request builds on these resources for an additional 90 positions in Wage and Hour and 358 positions Department-wide. Please consult usajobs.gov for specific postings in your area.
1:39 Comment From Eve Tahmincioglu, MSNBC.c: With a growing number of states adopting early release programs for their prison inmates as a way to slash budgets, will any part of the DOL budget go to helping ex-cons gain employment? The jobless rate among many ex-felons is estimated by some experts to be as high as 60 percent. What is the DOL doing to deal with this issue since a job is one of the best ways to keep ex-prisoners out of jail?
1:39 Secretary Solis: DOL is very committed to supporting prisoner re-entry. 98 million dollars is funded for prisoner re-entry in ETA. Additionally, VETS is funded for 4 million for its Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program (IVTP). This funding will allow IVTP to help 1500 veterans through 12 grant locations.
1:41 Comment From John Twomey: The National and Community Service Innovation fund draft regulations required a $ 1 million match. In rural areas, foundations cannot put up that much. Is there similar thinking in proposed WIA Innovation fund.
1:41 Secretary Solis: The Workforce Innovation Partnership Fund between the Department of Labor and the Department of Education will enable the departments to build knowledge about what works -- rigorously testing and evaluating the most promising practices and service strategies and then broadly disseminating for replication those that prove valuable throughout the workforce and education communities. Competitive grants will support state and local efforts to test these strategies; we are interested in leveraging both public and private resources to explore these innovative strategies. The specifics about whether to require a match have yet to be worked out.
1:42 Comment From David Dickinson: Would you further explain the intent for the increase in Youthbuild funding?
1:43 Comment From Valerie Sewell: Will we have WIA Reauthorization in 2010? Could you provide us with an update on the Department's dialogue to date with the House and Senate committees?
1:43 Secretary Solis: I have visited several YouthBuild programs and have seen the impact of these opportunities for young people. YouthBuild is a second chance to learn important life skills. Many of these young people have faced tremendous barriers in their lives. I have personally witnessed the change and motivation in these young people once they complete our programs. I and the President remain strongly committed to our young people.
1:43 Secretary Solis: We support a reauthorized WIA that emphasizes streamlining service delivery, providing true one-stop shopping for high-quality services, engaging with employers on a regional and sectoral basis, improving accountability, and promoting innovation and identifying and replicating best practices. We are hopeful in working with Congress that WIA will be reauthorized.
1:44 Comment From Larry: Sorry if I missed this question. Is there any consideration for extending the COBRA subsidy? Thanks.
1:44 Secretary Solis: Larry, although we have already addressed this question, here is the answer again: Although the Administration hasn't taken a formal position on an additional COBRA extension, we note that in the Jobs Bill currently pending in the Senate there are provisions for an additional extension. Monday February 1, 2010 1:10 Secretary Solis
1:44 Comment From Susan W: During your comments, you mentioned additioanl dollars for Green Jobs. How will those dollars be spent/distributed?
1:44 Secretary Solis: Thank you, Susan. These funds will be made available through competitive grants, building on the green jobs program we started under the Recovery Act.
1:46 Comment From Melanie Waddell: Where can I see a copy of the DOL/Treasury RFI on annuities within retirement plans...I don't see it under news releases section on DOl web site.
1:46 Secretary Solis: Melanie, it will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow - today it is on the table at the Register.
1:46 Comment From Cathy: Does the Department plan to implement the Youth Innovation Fund this summer (summer 2010)? Doesn't it require Congressional approval?
1:46 Secretary Solis: The Youth Innovation Fund proposed as part of the Workforce Innovation Partnership Fund is in the FY 2011 budget request. If passed by Congress, funds could be available for the summer of 2011. Remaining Recovery Act funds along with formula funds may be used for summer employment activities in 2010.
1:47 Comment From Trish: Where exactly can we find the congressional justifications for the various DOL programs?
1:47 Secretary Solis: They are all posted on our Web site.
1:48 Comment From Kristina S.: Do you anticipate that the $4 million increase for OSHA's safety and health standards will be enough to support the many regulatory priorities enumerated in Dept.'s Dec. regulatory agenda?
1:48 Secretary Solis: OSHA has an aggressive and robust regulatory agenda. The increase $4.0 million dollars in contract funds complements the additional 20 FTE that were approved for standards activities in the FY 2010 budget. In FY 2011, OSHA is scheduled to publish four final rules and four proposed rules, as well as continuing work on numerous guidance products.
1:48 Comment From Guest: How will the new budget impact the Job Corps programs and has a new Director been identified for the JC program?
1:48 Secretary Solis: The FY 2011 Job Corps request is for $1,707,363,000. This will allow us to continue the work of the 123 centers around the country. Moving Job Corps into the ETA will allow ETA’s other programs to strengthen Job Corps. We can better interconnect with other ETA programs, offer more opportunities for young people, and increase their academic and vocational credentials so they can qualify for a good job.
The national search for the new Job Corps director is coming to a conclusion and an announcement will be made in the coming weeks.
1:49 Comment From Nanine Meiklejohn: How long an extension of unemployment benefits does the President's budget propose and would the extension have to be paid for?
1:49 Secretary Solis: There is no language in the FY 2011 budget for UI extensions. The administration has supported UI extensions and continues to work with Congress on the feasability of future extensions.
1:51 Comment From Lizabeth Birnbaum: You never elaborated about OWCP's budget. Will there be any changes under this program? I currently work for EEOICP in Cleveland, Ohio.
1:51 Secretary Solis: EEOICPA's FY 2011 budget request is essentially stable. We have requested a 20 FTE reduction (from 580 to 560 FTE) reflecting the gradual decline in incoming workload and our elimination of the backlog in FY 2009.
1:51 Comment From Ned McCann: What is the level of Wagner Peyser compred to last year?
1:51 Secretary Solis: The Department's request for $724,570 million in funds for Wagner Peyser is equal to the amount that Congress enacted for the program in FY 2010.
1:52 Comment From Guest: How will the potential health care reform affect the budget if it results in an increase in hiring needs? Will funds be cut from the agencies or has money been put aside for this effort?
1:52 Secretary Solis: This is a good question. In drafting out budget we can only assume what legislation has been enacted before the date of the budget. When and if health care reform is enacted, the Administration will assess the resource demands government-wide.
1:53 Comment From Lakeisha W: Will the 200 hires to OFCCP be permanent hires or FCIP hires?
1:53 Secretary Solis: Thank you for your question. Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP) hires are indeed permanent hires.
1:53 Comment From Guest: Are there specific areas of the budget that target moving individuals into nontraditional careers?
1:53 Secretary Solis: Yes. The budget includes funding for the WANTO program, which supports apprenticeship in non-traditional jobs. I also want to point out that our increase for green jobs funding includes training for job seekers who may otherwise lack the skills to compete for this growing sector of the economy.
1:54 Comment From michael w. wyand: Do you wish to comment on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. If I recall correctly, you are chairman of the board to the agency. What's in the budget for PBGC?
1:54 Secretary Solis: Michael, the PBGC's budget appears at page 43 of the Department's FY2011 Budget in Brief. http://www.dol.gov/dol/budget/
1:57 Comment From Guest: Could you comment specifically on the budget for MSHA and what the goal there is?
1:57 Secretary Solis: MSHA's goals are to reduce deaths, injuries and diseases from mining. The MSHA budget is constructed to support a number of safety and health initiatives, and assure that MSHA can implement the Mine Act to address these goals.
1:58 Comment From Francisco Garcia: Any timing information available on grants for Health Care Sector and Other High Growth and Emerging Industries (SGA/DFA PY 09-01)
1:58 Secretary Solis: Next week we will announce $220 million in grants for health care and emerging careers, ranging from $2 million to $5 million. In FY 2011, we will build on the foundation that the Recovery Act provided this year by using H1B visa funds to continue a health care training initiative. These funds could be supplemented by including community college resources that the Department expect to jointly administer with the Department of Education.
1:59 Comment From Jonathan Larsen, NYEC: You say, "our appropriations' language addresses the issue you identified within the youth program and will assure that local areas are not disadvantaged by this proposal." yet you do not address the fact that by setting aside 15% of youth activities formula funds for competitive grants, areas that don't receive these grants could see as a serious decrease in their formula funds (6 percent or more it appears). How will this be addressed?
1:59 Secretary Solis: The appropriations language reduces the governor's set aside from 15 percent to 10 percent in order to ensure that the creation of the Youth Innovation Fund does not negatively impact on local workforce areas. In addition, we expect that local workforce areas will be the primary beneficiary of the new innovation fund, allowing them to demonstrate promising new ideas and replicate proven practices.
2:00 Comment From Doug Holmes: How much in additional resources is proposed for initiatives to reduce the duration of unemployment compensation, e.g. REA grants, job search assistance, eligibility reviews, systems designed to improve the electronic exchange of information with employers to improve the speed, accuracy and integrity of the UI program?
2:00 Secretary Solis: Thanks, Doug, for the question. I am pleased that the budget includes $65 million for targeted Reemployment and Eligibility Assessments for Unemployment Insurance claimants designed to reduce their duration of unemployment. In addition, there are several integrity provisions in the budget. The budget request includes a legislative proposal to provide state new tools to prevent, detect and collect improper payments. The budget also includes a cross-agency effort to help states identify employers who are misclassifying workers for tax purposes.
2:00 Comment From Josh: Will this budget give OFCCP the ability to move faster in renewing contracts, so that employees aren't left waiting to find out if they will continue to have a job?
2:00 Secretary Solis: Thank you for this important question. Since federal contracts are renewed annually, the speed with which they are renewed or funded will depend on whether Congress has issued a continuing resolution which limits the implementation of the President's appropriation.
2:02 Comment From Christine Abramowitz: If I understand the tables and funding highlight documents correctly, 100% of the increases in WIA funds are to be for the Workforce Innovation Fund competitive grants; therefore regular Adult, DLW and Youth allocations to states and local areas are proposed at essentially level-funding?
2:03 Secretary Solis: Christine, you are correct. The increases for the adult dislocated workers and youth formula programs will support the Workforce Innovation Fund that will award grants to states and localities to test promising new ideas and strategies, and identify those that work for broad dissemination to the workforce and education communities.
2:03 Comment From Ken Ward Jr.: Could you outline how the proposed budget affects MSHA and ongoing efforts to eliminate black lung disease and do away with mining deaths?
2:03 Secretary Solis: The budget is designed to carry out implementation of the Mine Act. That includes complete inspections of mines (including health inspections). MSHA has launched a special program to End Black Lung and is launching another focused on prevention of mining deaths. Both programs include education and improved enforcement.
2:03 Comment From Stephen Lee, OSHR: Many stakeholders have concluded that OSHA's budget is inadequate for it to fulfill its mission of vigorous enforcement. What does today's budget say about the administration's commitment to that mission?
2:03 Secretary Solis: Today's budget affirms this administration's strong commitment to vigorous enforcement. OSHA received over 100 inspectors in our 2010 budget, as well as an additional 25 requested in 2011. We are also moving 35 inspectors from compliance assistance activities to enforcement.
In addition, OSHA is showing how we can leverage our resources more effectively. With the largest fine in OSHA’s history and more egregious cases, we are sending a strong message throughout industry that we will not tolerate the endangerment of workers. We will continue those efforts with a number of new and innovative enforcement initiatives in the coming year.
We are also addressing problems with immigrant and gard to reach workers, who work in high-risk workplaces like construction and meat packing. I am organizing a conference addressing the health and safety concerns of Latino workers this coming April in Houston, TX. Check the OSHA webpage (www.osha.gov) for more.
2:04 Comment From allen evans: We applaud the Departments recognition of the important role Community Colleges can play. Please also be aware that many WIA eligible students cannot succeed in college without remediation that colleges are not always well positioned to provide.
2:04 Comment From Karen Thorne: Are there any chances in the future for increased funds to Indian & Native American Programs? Unemployment rates in some areas of Indian Country are at least double and sometimes triple the current US rate.
2:04 Secretary Solis: In FY 2011, we are requesting an increase of $2.24 million dollars for the Indian Native American Program. We believe these increases will restore funding to the levels originally envisioned by the Workforce Investment Act while supporting further services to this historically underserved population. This increase will support an additional 2,000 participants.
2:05 Comment From allen evans: When will the Innovation Fund applications become available?
2:05 Secretary Solis: Thanks for the question, Allen. After the FY2011 budget is enacted, the Department will move aggressively, in collaboration with its Department of Education partner, to issue solicitations for competitive grants under the new Workforce Innovation Fund. Look for announcements on www.doleta.gov.
2:06 Secretary Solis: At 2 p.m.,we were supposed to move into a discussion with three assistant secretaries on workforce investment. So before I go, I'll take some questions on that topic.
2:07 Comment From Greg S.: With unemployment being at record highs, is there any funding for a modernization of the unemployment benefits system?
2:07 Secretary Solis: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act appropriated $7 billion for unemployment insurance modernization. States have applied for and received some or part of these funds. Approximately $4 billion remain available for states to apply for in 2010.
2:09 Comment From Lee De Salvo: Any word on the Disability Navigator Initiative and funding from WIA?
2:09 Secretary Solis: Under this budget request, the department's Employment and Training Administration and Office of Disability Employment Policy will continue collaborating to improve effective and meaningful participation of people with disabilities in the workforce with funds contributed by each agency. These funds will continue and build upon the promising practices implemented by disability program navigators and other related activities.
2:11 Comment From Christine Abramowitz: Can you describe what the $40M in "transitional jobs programs" will look like, e.g., is this like "paid work experience" for adults?
2:11 Secretary Solis: The budget proposes $40 million for PD&R funds be used to fund a second round of grants to demonstrate and evaluate transitional jobs. Transitional jobs combine short-term subsidized employment with case management services to help individuals with significant barriers to employment, such as non-custodial parents, obtain the skills needed to secure unsubsidized jobs. In addition, $1 million will be provided for technical assistance.
2:13 Comment From Ryan Hess%252C ETR: Job Corps -- What participant level will the Job Corps appropriation support and how does that compare to the current year, and will this budget support the development of any new centers, beyond those projects that have already been sited?
2:13 Secretary Solis: Job Corps Fiscal Year 2011 budget includes funding for 63,149 new enrollments, an increase of 111 over FY 2010. By June 30, 2011, the program will support 124 centers, including plans to activate two new centers in Pinellas County, Florida by June, 2010 and Milwaukee, WI by June 2011.
2:15 Comment From Mark Schoeff, Crains WFM: Secretary Solis: In your video message, you said that the $11.8 billion you request for employment and training programs "is tied to reforms." Would you please elaborate on what reforms you're seeking and how they relate to WIA reauthorization.
2:15 Secretary Solis: Mark, thank you for the question. More than a decade has passed since the Workforce Investment Act was enacted in 1998, and we regard the reauthorization as an opportunity to continuously improve the delivery of services and produce better outcomes for workers. We support a reauthorized WIA that emphasizes streamlining service delivery, providing true one-stop shopping for high quality services, engaging employers on a regional and sectoral basis, improving accountability and promoting innovation in identifying and replicating best practices. We believe that the initiatives proposed in the budget reflect these goals.
2:18 Comment From Susan Hoffman, PWIB: Can you give some examples of the kinds of innovations you would like to see funded?
2:18 Secretary Solis: Thanks, Susan. Some of the areas we anticipate funding include integrated learning and earning strategies, regional or sectoral approaches to job training, and better serving underserved populations. For youth, we are looking at summer and year-round employment opportunities and work experience for out-of-school youth. The goal of these funds is to demonstrate promising new ideas and we expect to hear more from the system before any solicitation is issued. We also expect to fund the replication of proven practices and will conduct rigorous evaluations of funded projects.
2:18 Comment From Guest: Could you discuss the increase in NFJP
2:19 Secretary Solis: When I speak about good jobs for everyone, I mean everyone. So this year, we have requested an increase in the National Farm Worker Program of $2,758,000 million abiove the FY 2010 level, for a total funding of $87,378,000. I am equally delighted to note an increase in funding for Native American programs to $55 million.
2:19 Comment From Charlie: Will a transcript be available after today's sessions?
2:19 Secretary Solis: Charlie, all of the materials including a transcript will be available at www.dol.gov/budget.
2:26 Comment From Mark Gruenberg: The department is aiding the unemployed through extended jobless benefits, one-stop career centers and other initiatives to tide people over. But what do you say to a worker who says to you: "I'm qualified, I'm ready, I'm willing, I'm able. I want a job TOMORROW. What are you doing for me to ensure I get a job TOMORROW?" We all know people like that.
2:27 Secretary Solis: Our competitive grants funded under the recovery act have provided over 25,000 training slots. The partnerships represent impressive labor-management partnerships in emerging green industries that could offer workers the immediate skills they need to fill vacancies in turbine and solar panel manufacturing, bio-fuel development, and high-tech manufacturing. Based upon the interest conveyed by our partners, we are extremely hopeful that these partnerships will result in immediate job creation.
2:27 Comment From Sheila: Secretary Solis and DOL Leaders, Thank you so much for taking the time to update us on the budget and responding to our questions.
2:27 Secretary Solis: Unfortunately that’s going to wrap up my time for today’s chat. I encourage you to stay online as some of the members of my senior leadership team take over to discuss our Workforce Investment and Worker Protection initiatives more in depth. Until next time!
2:27 Comment From Guest: Yuo mentioned earlier that additional resources are being requested in ETA's budget to account for ongoing management responsibilities related to ARRA. Does include funding to maintain some staff hired temorarily under ARRA?
2:27 Jane Oates: If the request for additional funding is approved, we would want to take advantage of the additional experience gained by the temporary ARRA staff.
2:28 Comment From Lawrence Thoo: Is any thought being given to changing WIA policies with respect to helping unemployed adults and youth consider and prepare for successful self-employment or micro-enterprise development?
2:28 Jane Oates: Thanks, Lawrence, for your question. The FY2011 budget request proposes a new Workforce Innovation Fund to test and rigorously evaluate promising new ideas and service strategies. We anticipate that some states or local areas may propose creative approaches to help adults, including young adults, acquire the skills and knowledge to be entrepreneurs or self-employed. We also will be focusing on helping business, particularly small business, access information and entrepreneurial services in partnership with the Department of Commerce and other federal agencies.
2:29 Comment From Jamaal Abdul-Alim: The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) among others, have called for some type of program similar to the Youth Opportunty grants of 2000. Anything like that in this budget?
2:29 Jane Oates: The Youth Innovation Fund will provide an opportunity to fund proven practices as well as providing some opportunity for competitive summer employment.
2:29 Comment From Ryan Hess%252C ETR: For Asst. Sec. Jefferson, withing VETS, the proposal requests a decrease in state grants and an increase in homeless vets grants. Could you describe the thinking behind these changes?
2:29 Ray Jefferson: Hello, Ryan. There actually is not a decrease in state grant funding, but a difference in how funding is reported. Let us explain -- in the past, the Transition Assistance Program has been included in state grants. For 2011, it is being displayed separately. The actual amount of funding for state grants in 2011 remains level. There is also a $1 million increase in the Transition Assistance Program.
There is also a $5 million increase for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. This will be used to continue funding for a new emphasis on identifying and disseminating best practices for serving homeless women Veterans and homeless Veterans with families.
2:32 Jane Oates: You all have so many great questions, and I realize that we are running a little tight on time, so we're going to ask our colleagues from the Worker Protection section of the web chat to join us.
2:32 Comment From Guest: Thank you so much for conducting this web chat. You said, "The budget also includes a cross-agency effort to help states identify employers who are misclassifying workers for tax purposes. " Could you elaborate on this? Thank you!
2:32 Jane Oates: The Department of Labor is requesting $10.96 million for the Employment and Training Administration and $12 million for the Wage and Hour Division for FY2011 to support a new multi-agency initiative to dramatically strengthen and coordinate federal and state efforts to address employer misclassification of workers. The goal is to improve capacity to identify misclassification through increased information sharing and targeted audits in high-risk industry sectors. These efforts will prevent misclassification, increase statuatory enforcement where appropriate, and enable collection of payroll taxes previously lost due to misclassification, such as in the Unemployment Insurance program.
2:35 Comment From Bob, Cleveland OH: I understand the "Youth Innovation Fund" will require employers to hire the transitional youth for at least 6 months.
2:35 Jane Oates: Competitive grants will support local and state workforce investment boards in partnership with other public and private sector initiatives, including employers, community and philanthropic organizations, to create and rigorously evaluate new opportunities to help youth, ages 16 to 24, transition into post-secondary education, leading to industry-based credentials and degrees and into employment along career paths.
2:36 Comment From David Dickinson: How can a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business better interact with DOL on programs that DOL has for veterans? Is there a point person at DOL for veteran owned businesses?
2:36 Ray Jefferson: Hi, David. The Department of Labor takes seriously its commitment to meet the 3 percent contracting goal for SDVOSB. We direct you to the following Web page, which explains contracting opportunities for small businesses and explains our vendor outreach sessions, where we introduce small businesses to DOL contracting opportunities:
2:37 Comment From Kathy Snyder MS&HN: Perhaps you would give us a run-down on prospects for miner safety and health in 2011?
2:37 Joe Main: In FY 2011, MSHA will improve safety and health conditions in the mining workplace by targeting the most common causes of fatal accidents, reducing health risks, and improving miners training. We will also focus on improving impoundment safety as well as emergency response preparedness. The budget is designed, fundamentally, to assure implementation of the Mine Act – including complete inspection of all mines. The 2011 budget will permit MSHA to continue and expand efforts to end black lung disease and prevent fatalities.
2:39 Comment From Susan W: Can you further elaborate on these comments form your answer to the WIA reauthorization question: "streamlining service delivery..., engaging with employers on a regional and sectoral basis, improving accountability, and promoting innovation"?
2:39 Jane Oates: Susan, thanks for this question. We see WIA reauthorization as a great opportunity to build on the workforce systems' strengths, address its weaknesses, and better update and equip the system to respond to the challenges of the knowledge economy. Streamlining service delivery will help simplify the complex set of rules and different requirements and practices across programs that individuals currently must negotiate to receive services. Engaging employers means working with employers of all sizes in high demand sectors of regional or local economies -- and others -- to ensure that training programs lead to good jobs. More information will be available as the budget materials roll out.
2:41 Comment From Daniel Glucksman: Will a good health and safety track record be required for all federal contracto[...]rs recieving grants from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA)?
2:41 Dr. David Michaels: OSHA, working with DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is implanting a number of measures to ensure the safety of workers on stimulus projects. Secretary Solis has notified all federal agencies that provide ARRA funds that all contractors are required to comply with OSHA standards. OSHA has also conducted more than 2000 inspections of Recovery Act projects through January 2010.
2:41 Comment From Guest: to my knowledge several individuals looking to use WIA funding find it difficult to utilize these funds a provider that offers short term training. do you know if the guidelines are going to change for a training provider to become an eligible provider?
2:41 Jane Oates: In response to Guest's question, eligible provider lists for training are maintained at the state level and accessible through the local one-stop career centers. As the WIA is reauthorized, there could be changes made in this process.
2:42 Comment From Guest: What kinds of things are being done to assist veterans in regards to workforce investment
2:42 Ray Jefferson: There are two major programs supporting workforce investment for Veterans. The first is our Jobs for Veterans State Grants program. This program funds salaries for about 2,000 employment representatives throughout America in the DOL One-Stop Career Centers. The second program supports preparing Veterans for jobs in the green economy. We have 17 grants, are funded at $9.6 million and will serve 4,600 Veterans.
2:42 Comment From Rosemary Hainey: In reviewing the website recovery.gov, I notice that were many more disbursement made than job created. How will federal contractors, in particular, be held to the standards created by the ARRA?
2:42 Jane Oates: Thank you for your question. As you may know, the number and amount of disbursements are in direct relationship to the number and type of jobs, as well as the pay scales for those jobs. However, the OFCCP ensures that ARRA funds are not used by federal contractors to discriminate against applicants and employees on the basis of race, sex, national origin, religion, color, veteran's status and disability.
2:43 Comment From James Sharpe: How much money has been set aside for the state grants training program?
2:43 Joe Main: The 2011 Budget includes $8,441,000.00 for state grant assistance, and $500,000.00 for Brentwood-Sago Grants.
2:43 Comment From Jie Zheng: I see that there will be a request to start a joint Labor-Treasury initiative to stop the inappropriate misclassification of employees as independent contractors. I think this policy approach will be helpful to reduce the number of misclassified employees. Do you envision a similar enforcement approach to tackle backwage violations (minimum wage and overtime paid)? Thank you for your time.
2:44 Nancy Leppink: Misclassification of employees as independent contractors results in violations of any number of federal and state employment benefit and protection laws, and state and federal tax laws, including minimum wage and overtime violations. Consequently, the Joint Labor-Treasury Initiative will address the failure to pay minimum wage and overtime due to misclassification of employees.
2:44 Comment From Alisha Hyslop: It appears that no new funds are provided in the Department of Labor's budget for the Career Pathways Innovation Fund. Is this correct?
2:44 Comment From Tony: Given the fact that the system was encouraged to spend much of the ARRA youth funds for last years summer youth employment program many areas will have very small, if any, jobs for youth this summer. You have indicated that there will be competitive grants for summer youth jobs but many areas will not be successful in getting a grant. Is there any possibility of summer youth employment funding for this summer beyond the competitive grants ?
2:44 Jane Oates: We realize that in order to employ over 300,000 youth in summer of 2009, many local areas used all of their Recovery Act funds. Unless there is additional funding, many locals will be limited to their formula funds. And please let me clarify that the competitive opportunties will not be available until summer 2011.
2:45 Comment From Bruce: The budget proposal includes an increase of $4 million for the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Can you identify the MSHA programs that will be increased and by what amount?
2:45 Joe Main: The program increasesw will incur in the metal and non-metal program, the Office of Standards, the Technical Support program, and the programs responsible of MSHA's computer systems and technology.
2:45 Comment From Guest: it looks like Workforce Investment Boards are now able to contract with higher education entities for ITAs. Is this a part of the WIA innovations?
2:45 Jane Oates: Guest, under the Recovery Act, local areas were authorized to contract with higher education institutions and other eligible training providers; Congress continued this authorization in the FY2010 appropriations for the Department of Labor. WIA reauthorization will need to address this issue to authorize local boards to contract for training on a permanent basis.
2:46 Comment From Sheila: Could you discuss your plans to ensure that all individuals have access to the services on the workforce development system. Individuals with barriers to employment, such as individuals with disabilities, with limited english proficiency and the aging workforce with all benefit from more universal approaches to making services accessible. Universal design for the workforce development system could help to ensure that all individuals receive quality service.
2:46 Kathy Martinez: Under this budget request, the Employment and Training Administration, and the Office of Disability Employment Policy will collaborate to increase effective and meaningful participation of people with disabilities and others with barriers to employment in workforce development programs, including those offered through One-Stop Career Centers. ETA and ODEP will build upon promising practices implemented by disability program navigators and other successful strategies promoting universal usability within the workforce system.
2:46 Jane Oates: Alisha, the 2011 budget does not request resources for the Career Pathways Innovation Fund. It is anticipated that the American Graduation Initiative, once enacted, will include strategies to accomplish the goals of the Career Pathways Innovation Fund.
2:49 Comment From James Sharpe: Is there an increase in the budget for enforcement and, if so, by how much? Please break down the answer by Coal vs. Metal/Non-Metal.
2:49 Joe Main: The budget request includes an increase of 4.8 million dollars for MSHA enforcement programs. The Coal Program has an increase of $397,000; the metal / non-metal program received an increase of 3.5 million, and the Office of Standards grew by $841,000.
2:49 Comment From Michelle: Of the remaining 10% governor's set aside for Youth Statewide activities, will we still be allowed to reserve 5% for admin?
2:49 Jane Oates: The 2011 budget proposes a reduction, from 15% to 10% for state activities under youth formula funding. However, there is no reduction in the percentage available for administration of the youth formula funds, which remain at 5% at the state level and 10% at the local level.
2:51 Comment From Kristina S.: During the 1 p.m. Q&A Secretary Solis indicated that OSHA would be publishing four final rules and four proposed rules in FY 2011. Can you please tell us what these are?
2:51 Comment From Stephen Lee, BNA: Asst. Secy. Michaels, earlier today, Secretary Solis said the budget proposal includes a plan to "significantly reduce" OSHA's VPP funding. Can you provide details on how that will unfold, and why that decision was made?
2:51 Dr. David Michaels: Kristina S. and Stephen Lee, thanks for your questions. We will be working closely with our stakeholders, including VPPPA, to identify new or alternative funding sources. In the meantime, we will be shifting field inspection staff from VPP programs to enforcement activities because the need in that area is particularly great. We recognize that VPP companies do an excellent job; OSHA resources need to be focused on employers who don't understand the importance of protecting their workers, particularly small employers.
2:51 Comment From S. Ruth: Is there a list of our "trading partners" that you mentioned in terms of strengthening their workers' rights?
2:51 Comment From S. Ruth Gerson: Is there a list of our "trading partners" that you mentioned in terms of strengthening their workers' rights?
2:51 Sandra Polaski: We are working to strengthen workers' rights in countries that have free trade agreements with the U.S. -- a total of 16 countries -- and in those that enjoy trade preferences, which include another 130 countries. We do this by enforcing requirements in these trade pacts that countries protect fundamental worker rights.
With the new funds requested for 2011, we will also launch robust new programs in a number of countries. The selection of countries will depend, in part, on where there are problems and, in part, on which countries demonstrate that they have the political will to protect their workers, so that we can tackle the tough problems together.
2:52 Comment From Tim F: will the requirement for a safety and health management system be put forward in 2011 and will it be modeled from the Clinton Administration model?
2:52 Dr. David Michaels: OSHA believes strongly in the effectiveness of workplace injury and illness prevention programs, and we are considering a variety of options to encourage all employers to implement these programs.
2:53 Comment From Neil Anderson, 401kWire: Assistant Secretary Borzi, Secretary Solis mentioned an RFI from the DoL and Treasury coming out tomorrow in the Federal Register. Can you tell us any more about that?
2:53 Phyllis Borzi: Thanks, Neil, this RFI is a joint project of Treasury and EBSA. We are trying to solicit input on three general topics. 1) What's happening in the market place in terms of products that are being offered that give participants the ability to take their pension benefits in lifetime income streams. 2)Why plan sponsors of 401(k) plans are reluctant to offer annuities or lifetime income products as an optional form of distribution in addition to lump-sum distributions. 3) Why participants, when offered a lifetime income stream product, take a lump sum. We are hoping to spark a national dialogue on these topics. We do not come to it with any preconceived ideas of what, if anything, needs to be done. We are just looking for input from all stakeholders.
2:55 Comment From Mark Hankin: I am pleased to see the interested focus on international labor rights. Can you elaborate a bit more on how the DOL will select countries for the monitoring programs so that it gets the biggest bang for its investment?
2:55 Sandra Polaski: With the new funds requested for 2011, we will launch the monitoring programs in a number of countries. The selection of countries will depend, in part, on where there are problems and, in part, on which countries demonstrate that they have the political will to protect their workers, so that we can tackle the tough problems together.
2:57 Comment From Michele Marill: How many additional OSHA inspectors does this budget represent and what will that mean for employers? Will there be more programmed inspections, targeted inspections, etc?
2:57 Dr. David Michaels: With this budget we will hire 25 additional inspectors, and shift 35 who are presently doing compliance assistance to enforcement activities. With these additional staff we will be able to conduct more targeted inspections and National and Local Emphasis Programs.
2:59 Nancy Leppink: Thanks, Kim, for the question. By requiring the payment of locally prevailing wage rates, the Davis Bacon and Related Acts help ensure that workers are not adversely impacted by federal contracting practices that award contracts to the lowest bidders -- bidders who may attempt to reduce labor costs at the expense of the local labor force.
3:02 Comment From Guest: What "good jobs" can those that drop out of high school expect to achieve in the next few years?
3:02 Nancy Leppink: Thanks, Hall. The length of training should not impact the ease or difficulty of qualifying for the "Eligible Training Provider List" under WIA. It is anticipated that improvements in available data will help training providers to qualify for the list. The proposed budget includes $13.75 million for the second year of the Workforce Data Quality Initiative.
3:03 Comment From Cathy: Could you please go over again what funding source the Innovation Funds will be funded by--is it the Governors Discretionary set-aside in both cases (adult and youth)?
3:03 Jane Oates: The Workforce Innovation Partnership Fund proposes to direct five percent contributions each from the adult formula program and the dislocated worker formula program (totallng $107.65 million), and a larger share from the youth formula program, 15 percent (or, $153.75 million), to innovate and evaluate creative ways of providing improved job training and employment services, using resources more effectively. New funds are the source for the adult and dislocated worker contributions, and new funds combined with five percent of the Governors' discretionary set-aside funds comprise the youth contribution.
3:03 Dr. David Michaels: By common causes, we mean causes like falls from roofs and scaffolds, trench collapses, and other preventable causes. We plan to increase our consultation programs for small employers, particularly targeting Latino and other workers in high-risk industries. With our increased number of inspectors, we will use Local and National Emphasis Programs to better focus enforcement on high-hazard industries.
3:03 Comment From Kyle Morrison: One of the department’s goals over the next two years is to reduce fatalities resulting from common causes by two percent in OSHA-covered workplaces. What are these “common causes,” and what specific plans does OSHA have to target them and reduce fatalities caused by them?
3:04 Comment From Cathleen: What are you going to do when the states can't pay back all of the federal money that has been loaned to them to pay for unemployment?
3:05 Nancy Leppink: Thanks, Cathleen, currently under the American Recovery and Investment Act, interest is suspended on loans states are receiving to pay unemployment insurance benefits. Currently there are no provisions to provide states and debt relief for these loans.
3:06 Comment From Kathy Snyder: For Joe Main: I sent this Q in to Secy Solis, too, but it sems there was not enough time for her to answer it. The MSHA budget calls for eliminating the Small Mine Safety office that provides consultation to small mine operators who usually don't have their own professional health and safety personnel. This is $2.3 m and 21 FTE. Is MSHA still going to be able to assist these mines, and if so, how?
3:06 Joe Main: Yes, MSHA believes that assistance to small mines is needed, and we are making changes to improve that assistance. Personnel from the Small Mines Office and the work they are doing will be integrated throughout the Agency. This will bring small mines assistance closer to the mines and the mine operators.
Small mines assistance expertise will be delivered primarely through our coal and metal / non-metal program areas. We have initiated discussions with the mining community to improve the quality and value of this important area of work.
3:08 Comment From Participant: Would you elaborate regarding efforts to overhaul WIA performance measures? Thank you.
3:08 Jane Oates: Thanks for your question. Clearly, a key area of WIA reform is improving accountability. Performance measures need to be "overhauled" and made consistent among programs throughout the workforce system to promote better outcomes for individuals of all skill and need levels, particularly for those who are not yet ready and able to move quickly into jobs. Information about program performance must be made available in ways that workers and employers can make informed decisions about services and programs that are most likely to meet their needs, and in ways that help providers continually improve their services.
3:17 Jane Oates: We have now come to the end of the Department of Labor’s FY 2011 web chat. Thank you for taking time to join us this afternoon and for your interest. We realize we were not able to get to every question today and encourage you to visit our website at www.dol.gov for more information and updates on our programs and initiatives throughout the year.
3:18 Comment From Neil: Thank you for this online chat. It has been very informative and helpful.