United States General Accounting Office GAO Health, Education, and Human Services Division May 1997 Education and Employment Issues Issue Area Plan for Fiscal Year 1997-99 GAO/IAP-97-10 Foreword As the investigative arm of the Congress and the nation’s auditor, the General Accounting Office is charged with following the federal dollar wherever it goes. Reflecting stringent standards for objectivity and independence, GAO’s audits, evaluations, and investigations promote a more efficient and cost-effective government; expose waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in federal programs; help the Congress target budget reductions; assess financial and information management; and alert the Congress to developing trends that may have significant fiscal or budgetary consequences. In fulfilling its responsibilities, GAO performs original research and uses hundreds of databases or creates its own databases when information is unavailable elsewhere. To ensure that GAO’s resources are directed toward the most important issues facing the Congress, each of GAO’s 32 issue areas develops a strategic plan that describes the significance of the issues it addresses, its objectives, and the focus of its work. Each issue area relies heavily on input from congressional committees, agency officials, and subject-matter experts in developing its strategic plan. The work of the Education and Employment issue area focuses on the education provided in early childhood and elementary and secondary education programs, youths’ and adults’ access to higher education and employment training, employers’ efforts to locate qualified job candidates, and the quality of the nation’s workplaces. The principal issues are • using federal resources to support and encourage state and local efforts to provide education programs that will enable all youths to obtain skilled jobs and become informed citizens; • ensuring that eligible students have access to quality higher education while encouraging cost-containment for education programs and protection of federal education funds from fraud and abuse; • helping individuals acquire the skills needed to become productively employed and helping employers locate qualified job candidates; and • improving protection for workers while reducing the burden for employers in complying with workplace regulations. In the pages that follow, we describe our key planned work on these important issues. Page 1 GAO/IAP-97-10 Foreword Because events may significantly affect even the best of plans, our planning process allows for updating and has the flexibility to respond quickly to emerging issues. If you have any questions or suggestions about this plan, please call me at (202) 512-7014. Carlotta C. Joyner Director, Education and Employment Issues Page 2 GAO/IAP-97-10 Contents 1 Foreword 4 Table I: Key Issues 8 Table II: Planned Major Work 9 Table III: GAO Contacts Page 3 GAO/IAP-97-10 Table I: Key Issues Issue Significance Preparatory education: In school year 1996-97, the nation will spend over $300 billion on Is the federal government using its education resources elementary and secondary education. Although the federal contribution is effectively to support and encourage state and local only about 7 percent of this amount, the federal spending leverages much efforts to provide education programs that will enable all of the state and local spending. Total spending is up, but per-pupil youths to obtain skilled jobs in the economy of the 21st spending has leveled off since 1989. At the same time, the proportion of century and to become informed citizens? poor school-aged children has steadily increased. The administration has made education its highest priority issue. The Congress also is now supporting an increased federal role in quality education initiatives. This interest responds to significant public concern about the quality of American education. Higher education: The Department of Education is concurrently operating the direct and How can the federal government’s goal of ensuring that guaranteed student loan programs. It faces the challenge of efficiently eligible students have access to quality higher education and effectively managing both programs along with other student aid be met while encouraging cost-containment and programs. We have identified the student aid programs as a high-risk area preventing fraud and abuse with respect to federal because the programs’ structure and weaknesses in departmental resources? management place millions of dollars in student aid funds at risk for abuse and mismanagement. Also, the demand for federal financial aid resources has grown as increased tuition at both public and private schools has placed a greater financial burden on students and their families. Between 1980 and 1995, the cost to attend a 4-year public college or university rose by 234 percent, nearly three times the 82-percent increase in the median household income. Page 4 GAO/IAP-97-10 Table I: Key Issues Objectives Focus of work 1.Assess how well federal, state, and local management practices •Management practices and internal controls of federal contribute to the effective use of federal education funds. education programs •Education achievement and accountability 2.Identify ways various federal education funding formulas and state •Targeting in federal and state school funding formulas school finance systems could better target resources to special-needs •Technology needs of educational institutions students. •Alternative school management and parental choice options, such as charter schools 3.Identify ways to encourage effective use of classroom technology that •Promising public/private partnerships in the delivery of supports the achievement of high academic standards for all students. education services •Consolidation of federal education programs serving 4.Identify and describe issues associated with various methods for children and youths achieving equity in financing and providing elementary and secondary education services consistent with federal goals. 5.Identify ways to consolidate overlapping programs, functions, and units to eliminate duplication and unnecessary costs. 1.Identify ways the government can more effectively deliver student •Operation of student aid programs financial aid. •Student aid data systems • Efforts to collect student loans and prevent defaults 2.Evaluate the adequacy of the government’s processes for determining • Better targeting of financial aid schools’ eligibility to participate in federal student financial aid programs. • Escalating costs of higher education • Reauthorization of Higher Education Act 3.Assess how financial and management information systems can better support student aid programs and minimize potential abuse and mismanagement. 4.Assist the Congress in identifying ways to minimize the cost of college to students while ensuring needy students access to appropriate postsecondary education. 5.Provide information and analytical support to the 105th Congress during its deliberations in reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. (continued) Page 5 GAO/IAP-97-10 Table I: Key Issues Issue Significance Workforce skills and jobs: A strong, internationally competitive economy depends, in part, on How can the United States better assist workers in effectively preparing workers to compete in the workforce and efficiently acquiring the skills needed to become productively helping employers locate qualified job candidates. The federal employed and help employers locate qualified job government has invested considerable effort and resources towards this candidates? end, spending about $20 billion in fiscal year 1995 supporting employment and training programs spread across 15 different agencies. However, rather than a coherent workforce development system, a patchwork of federal programs continues to exist with similar goals, conflicting requirements, overlapping target populations, and questionable outcomes. Legislation has been considered, but not enacted, to simplify and streamline this complex array of programs. In addition, recently passed welfare reform legislation, with its emphasis on work, is likely to affect the nation’s job training system. Worker protection: Technological and organizational change, the globalization of the What changes in work place regulatory strategies would economy, and reduced federal resources are calling into question the improve the level of worker protection while minimizing strategies many federal agencies use to regulate the work place. employers’ compliance burden? Strategies are needed that effectively combine basic worker protections with autonomous employee participation and enhanced employer flexibility. In addition, changes in household and workforce demographics are signaling the growing necessity of a regulatory framework that strikes a healthy balance between work, family, and community activities without compromising national economic competitiveness. Ensuring the rights of workers, while minimizing the regulatory burden on employers, is a subject of considerable congressional interest. Page 6 GAO/IAP-97-10 Table I: Key Issues Objectives Focus of work 1.Identify ways to move toward a comprehensive workforce •State efforts to consolidate programs development system. •Response of job training programs to welfare reform 2.Identify ways to improve the effectiveness of employment training programs for economically disadvantaged youths and adults, •Job training services to target populations veterans, dislocated workers, and the disabled population. •State and private sector involvement in job training 3.Assess the quality and access to local labor market information by program operators, employers, and the unemployed. •Use of local labor market information 1.Describe and evaluate current and alternative work place regulatory •Implementation of alternative regulatory strategies activities and broader strategies. •Changes in applicability of existing regulatory protections 2.Identify the implications for regulation of emerging trends in private to current work place conditions sector work place practices and organization. •Issues related to balancing productive work practices 3.Assess the consequences for work place regulation of recent with family needs developments in workforce and family demographics. Page 7 GAO/IAP-97-10 Table II: Planned Major Work Issue Planned major job starts Preparatory education • Assess how well Head Start, child care, and prekindergarten programs collaborate to meet the needs of children under welfare reform. • Review the implementation and effectiveness of Title I programs. • Evaluate the burden of federal education regulations and the success of regulatory flexibility in easing that burden. • Describe the impact of illegal immigrants on school systems. • Assess how much of the federal education dollar gets to the student. • Describe current state and local commitments to fund school construction. • Assess how federal funds flow to charter schools. • Assess selected management issues at the Department of Education. Higher education • Determine whether students are receiving financial aid in excess of their cost of education. • Assess the appropriateness of administrative costs for the direct loan program. • Examine opportunities for more cost-efficient operation of guaranty agencies in Federal Family Education Loan Program. • Assess the Department of Education’s efforts to integrate the separate student aid data systems. • Evaluate the effectiveness, accuracy, and security of the Department of Education’s National Student Loan Data System. • Assess schools’ use of the National Student Loan Data System to determine students’ eligibility and to improve the accessibility of financial aid data. • Describe Department of Education’s efforts to reduce loan defaults at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other colleges. • Assess the equity of how campus-based funds are awarded to colleges. • Identify ways the needs analysis formula might be adjusted to better target aid. • Assess how student debt burden changes borrowers’ behavior after leaving college. Workforce skills and jobs •Evaluate the response of state employment training systems to welfare reform. •Assess state efforts to develop one-stop career centers to help streamline employment training assistance. •Assess the quality and use of local labor market information by employers, the unemployed, and state employment training service providers. •Evaluate Job Corps’ management information and performance management systems. Worker protection •Assess the flexibility of Labor’s H-2A Agricultural Guestworker Program to respond to employer demands for additional foreign workers while maintaining protections for domestic farmworkers. •Assess the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s implementation of partnership initiatives as an alternative regulatory strategy. •Evaluate the effectiveness of Labor’s efforts to ensure the accuracy and reliability of its Davis-Bacon wage determinations. •Analyze trends in workforce coverage of key federal work place statutes, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and the National Labor Relations Act. •Examine private and public employers’ experiences in the substitution of compensatory time for overtime pay. Page 8 GAO/IAP-97-10 Table III: GAO Contacts Carlotta C. Joyner (202) 512-7014 Director Cornelia M. Blanchette (202) 512-8403 Associate Director Catherine Baltzell Assistant Directors Joseph Eglin, Jr. Harriet C. Ganson Lawrence Horinko Charles A. Jeszeck Eleanor L. Johnson Sigurd R. Nilsen Wayne Upshaw Page 9 GAO/IAP-97-10 Ordering Information The first copy of each GAO report and testimony is free. Additional copies are $2 each. Orders should be sent to the following address, accompanied by a check or money order made out to the Superintendent of Documents, when necessary. VISA and MasterCard credit cards are accepted, also. Orders for 100 or more copies to be mailed to a single address are discounted 25 percent. Orders by mail: U.S. General Accounting Office P.O. Box 6015 Gaithersburg, MD 20884-6015 or visit: Room 1100 700 4th St. NW (corner of 4th and G Sts. NW) U.S. General Accounting Office Washington, DC Orders may also be placed by calling (202) 512-6000 or by using fax number (301) 258-4066, or TDD (301) 413-0006. Each day, GAO issues a list of newly available reports and testimony. To receive facsimile copies of the daily list or any list from the past 30 days, please call (202) 512-6000 using a touchtone phone. 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Education and Employment Issues: Issue Area Plan for Fiscal Year 1997-99
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-05-01.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)