ITA/Eligible Provider Demonstration
Questions and Answers
Prepared for the
U.S. Department of Labor
Employment and Training Administration
Public Policy Associates, Incorporated
119 Pere Marquette Drive
Lansing MI 48912-1231
Nancy C. Hewat
Table of Contents
Issues of Concern: Questions and Answers
Common Themes from Visioning Exercises
The Department of Labor hosted two full-day informational sessions where potential
applicants for the ITA/Eligible Provider Demonstration Project (SGA/DFA99-017)
received background on previous demonstrations on Career Management Accounts, as
well as the DOL expectations for selected grantees. These sessions, which were held in Dallas
on September 27 and 28, 1999, were attended by about 120 representatives from state and
local government entities, national and regional DOL offices, DOL consultant organizations,
and service providers. At the sessions, participants identified issues that were of particular
concern to them. The questions and responses are provided in Section One below.
Additionally, the participants were involved in a "Visioning Exercise". The results of this
exercise are outlined in Section Two below.
Issues of Concern: Questions and Answers
Following the initial introductions and an overview of the day, participants were asked to
review the agenda and to provide comments and feedback on additional areas that needed to be
addressed during the session. At that time, and throughout the rest of the day as questions
were raised by participants, a list was compiled of the questions raised by participants.
The questions fell into two categories. Some of the questions dealt with more general issues
about individual training accounts, eligible training providers and the Workforce Investment
Act, while others were related to the demonstration project and solicitation. The following are
the questions that are included in the first category:
- How can a learning exchange among eligible providers be established?
- How should the demand occupations be identified? Is this a local issue that the
boards should consider?
- How should vendor performance information beyond self-reporting be verified?
Through an audit or through the use of wage records?
- How should additional flexibility be incorporated?
- How should boundary issues in regards to the ITA funds in terms of geographic
eligibility and residency be dealt with?
- What are the various implications for different types of providers?
- How should funding be prioritized? How should it be balanced? What funding
monies should be used first? (e.g., Pell versus WIA)
- How should the use of funds between those for actual ITAs and those for the
infrastructure building be coordinated?
- How should education providers and their eligibility requirements in terms of
different systems and approving authorities be coordinated?
- How should the liability of telling an individual and/or trainer provider, "No",
and of removing a provider from the eligibility list be dealt with?
- How can interested applicants access information on states that already have
experience with eligible providers and consumer reports?
- What about the logistics of compiling and maintaining the lists?
- How can the system be structured to promote the self-sufficiency of workers?
- How should money through ITA system be channeled?
- Will a lesser percentage amount of training be provided through an ITA system
versus the JTPA system?
The second category of issues raised dealt with the demonstration project and solicitation. The
following are the questions that fall in that category along with answers:
- How will the ITA demonstration technical assistance contractor survey fit with
other WIA customer surveys?
Any survey activity will be designed to compliment rather than duplicate
ongoing survey activity by the grantees.
- Can a state get more than one grant?
Only one grant is awarded to a grantee. However, there may be multiple grants
awarded within a State, and if this is the case, we assume that the awardees will
- Can a state and local PIC(s) apply together?
Yes, a state and local PIC(s) can apply together.
- Can a State structure a State/local grant that brings together several WIBs, but
allows them to choose their own variable elements, and interjects State roles,
i.e., capacity building, technology/infrastructure for eligible provider list
- Can an SDA under JTPA apply if its status under WIA is still under discussion
and its composition may change in the next few months?
An eligible applicant for this grant is one that is eligible as of the deadline date.
If after that date there is a change in the composition of the applicant, before a
grant would be made there would be a discussion with the new organization to
see if it is prepared to carry out the plan in the application and how this would
- If a PIC receives an award, what role/involvement will the state have
throughout the process? Will DOL include the state in some of the technical
assistance/capacity building? What about the evaluation process?
If a PIC receives an award, it should coordinate with the state as noted in the
SGA under Sections I.D.5 (Coordination) and V. (Assurances). Technical
assistance will involve the state and locals. The evaluation process will look at
- What kinds of ITA software developments are being considered?
ITA software development is an allowable activity (I.D.4.).
- Can an administrative entity and grant recipient under JTPA programs meet the
eligible applicant criteria in the SGA?
The applicant must be a PIC, state, local or state workforce investment board or
some combination, but the organization described above can work with the
applicant for the demonstration.
- Do the grantee TA requirements go beyond the life of the grant?
Grantee technical assistance requirements are not a grant obligation after the end
of the grant. However, we hope that the grantees will be willing to share their
information and expertise after the grant has ended.
- Must the subsequent eligibility process for eligible training providers be
implemented at the outset or at a later point of the grant period?
Creating an informed customer is the premise of ITAs/eligible training
providers. The application should indicate when the system will be established.
- What is meant by the 90-day delivery of service requirement, and when does
the clock start ticking?
Evaluation of the applications will be based on how quickly the objectives will
be implemented but everything does not need to occur in the first 90 days (after
execution) of the grant.
- When will the grants be announced?
Grants will be announced once the review and selection process has been
completed. We hope this will be in January or February 2000.
- Do the policies regarding subsequent eligibility requirements for eligible
training providers have to be designed prior to and detailed in the grant
Creating an informed consumer is the premise of ITAs/Eligible Training
Providers. The application should indicate when the system will be established.
- Is it possible to extend the grant deadline?
The grant deadline remains November 8, 1999 at 4 p.m. Eastern time as stated
in the SGA.
- What is meant by the 20% limit on training in the SGA?
The SGA provides that no more than 20 percent of grant funds could be used
for direct training expenditures in order to supplement other funds available for
training. This limit was set because the main goal of the demonstration is to use
the grant funds to build the ITA/Eligible Training Provider system itself.
- Is the double-spaced, 15-page limit for the proposal fixed?
The page limit was included in the SGA. However, proposals that are over 15
pages will not be excluded from consideration.
- Does the executive summary count toward the 15-page limit?
- Can the description for Common Elements and Variable Elements, which was
prepared as a chart, be an attachment rather than in the text of the proposal?
It can be included in the text of the proposal or as an attachment.
- If a state applies, does it have to implement a statewide ITA system or can it
choose pilot test sites?
A state can choose to implement a system statewide or for selected sites for
purposes of the demonstration.
- Does a provider have to be certified wholly or can specific programs and
curriculums be individually certified?
Specific programs and curriculums can be individually certified.
For the Visioning Exercise, participants were randomly split into groups of approximately
eight people and were told to think collectively about the following questions from the point of
view of customers, vendors, workforce boards, and the state--rather than approaching the
questions from the vantage point of their particular organization:
- What would you envision as ITA/Eligible Training Provider System to look
- How would your organization need to change to implement this new system?
- What do you view as the key challenge to successful implementation?
The groups were facilitated by Department of Labor representatives and consultants who
assisted in the exercise. The information below provides a summary from both sessions and is
organized by each question and according to issue and topic areas.
Question 1: What would you envision the ITA/Eligible Provider system to look like?
User friendly and universally accessible
- Internet based with 24-hour/day access
- Simple system for all, not just ITA holders but a broad range of One-Stop customers, to maintain its flexibility
- Free of needless bureaucratic involvement
- Automated and user friendly
- Seamless system across all levels
- Online applications for training providers application through the
- Providers can apply at any time
With current and useful information that provides:
- A "Smart Card" that contains customer information
- Up-to-date information through a call-in system that has details on
wages, number of graduates, etc.
- A customer-needs orientation, which creates well-informed customers
- The customer with the kind of information customers really want, value
(not what the designer thinks they want) linking the customer to what?
- Information through existing data collection systems
- Comparisons of service providers (for-profit and non-profit
- Information on what one can expect with successful completion of the
program: earnings, childcare, supportive services, etc.
- A statewide list that shows which areas (local) are covered by each
- A statewide list that is published and advertised twice per year
- The use of context (course) descriptions and a definition of terms
Works with input from and in conjunction with other relevant programs:
- Ties in other financial aid resources
- Coordinates efforts at the federal, state, and local levels to maintain
consistency (e.g., look at EER and wage rates)
- Establishes a communication process between the state and local areas
for the administration of the lists
- Includes all of the entities involved on the workforce board (businesses,
colleges, state, and local level)
Is business- and market-oriented:
- Markets to providers
- Recognizes business as the primary customers
- Determines employer involvement and support for the training provider
courses by looking at both large versus small employers and macro
versus micro labor market areas
Customizes and responds to the participants needs:
- Distinct program areas
- Participants whose backgrounds are examined to identify the type of case
management they need in an initial assessment
- Participants who work in a team to develop the employment plan with
the case manager as the coach
- Tolerates bad choices made by the participant
- Removes curriculum certifications and replaces them with a system that
responds to the need for retraining
- A variety of help (written, group training)
- Someone who is always available to work with the participants that is the
same each time (advisor, counselor, coach)
- The right information is provided in a consistent manner that lets
Can be held accountable and is clearly articulated:
- A provider application with its content guided by audits, performance
data, and/or price for the commodity
- The use of providers with whom the system has had experience
- Clear terms for the staff, participants, and providers
- Establishes a state process to review the list, to remove providers from
the list, and to appeal the removal (if necessary)
- Empowers the line staff to make key decisions
- Brings in providers to discuss policy and benefits
- Utilizes a neutral provider to facilitate and oversee the system
- Individuals are responsible for justifying investment
Is reliable and efficient:
- A case management system that distributes funds to vendors
- Up-to-date and current information on employment, placement rates,
wages in a cost-effective way
- A continuous feedback and improvement process from policy to
- Workforce boards that are used to ensure quality data and assume an
overall leadership role
Question 2: How would your organization need to change to implement this new system?
Staff training and capacity development occurs when the staff is:
- Fine-tuned on LMI
- Trained for the elevated role of coach, facilitator, and counselor
- Comfortable with WIA regulations and rules
- Able to adeptly assess skill sets and determine what employers are
- Utilizing affordable and high-quality assessment tools
- Identifying employer gaps
- Orienting partners in case management
- Treated as well as the clients
Coordination and/or redistribution of funds occurs by:
- Redistributing training money from bulk to individual basis
- Leveraging the training money to bring out big system changes
- Tracking ITA obligations
- Reducing administration costs cap
Cultural change mentality occurs by:
- Changing to a work-first mentality
- Using vision and performance requirements to drive change (WIA)
- Performing as a business versus as a program
- Using service, versus agency, labels
- Examining job titles
Coordination among entities occurs by:
- State and local levels sharing the decision making
- Sharing resources through information technology
- Enticing other partners to help make ITAs work
- Sharing investments
- Separating policy from operations
- Finding common purposes across programs
- Ensuring that the state is responsive to local roles and vice versa
- Creating an open technology system to share data among all partners
Increased accountability occurs through:
- Documenting the decision-making processes (deters litigations)
Systems change occurs through:
- Changing the personnel systems
- Looking at all issues and systems in terms of total workforce system
- Establishing IT systems
- Promoting and marketing systems and national tools
- Realizing economies of scale
- Standardizing customer satisfaction collection methods
- Communicating more with training providers
Increased flexibility occurs through the:
- Recognition of a broader client base
- An open-entry, versus semester-based, system in educational institutions
- Address the boundary and how much flexibility will be allowed
Increased responsiveness and efficiency occurs with a:
- Quickened training provider approval process (3 days)
- Quality assurance program to verify performance information by training
- A report card on client's progress
- A method to deal with early conflicts with vendors is established
Question 3: What do you view as the key challenge to successful implementation?
- How to get higher-quality information to all customers
- What will be the successful criteria? Does this vary on a state and local
- Who develops the standards and how to reconcile control
- How to flexibly change when something does not work
- How to create portability of ITAs across systems
- How can rural populations be served (Distance learning,
correspondence, Internet, and/or virtual universities)
Partnerships and coordination
- How to treat training providers as partners in the system
- How do locals decide who makes the local decisions
- How to implement state requirements when local systems are already
- How do the boards establish policy, management, and operations lines
- How does the local area move forward in the absence of a state plan
- How to connect between all partners on satisfaction
- How to change how each stakeholder views the system
- How to account for the fact that different providers serve different
- How to ensure that the state trusts and delegates to the locals
- How to address the boundary and geographic issues
- How to think outside the regulations
- What happens when the locals set higher standards than the state
- How to deal with the contradiction between accountability in terms of
the state's goals and the reality of local funding
Involvement of businesses
- How to focus on business and economic development
- How to keep the private sector involved
- How to market the new system to providers and consumers
- How to ensure that businesses are involved in One-Stops
- How to work within limited funds
- How to determine the amount of money per individual (Perhaps, make
an assessment regarding the providers and also the participants look to
experienced people to determine the cost.)
- How to deal with the budget constraints, administration limits, and
limited training dollars
- Since funding levels may be reduced, how can intensive services
continue to be provided
- How to empower customers and to get staff to perceive and believe this
- How to provide information management training
- How to create a greater knowledge base about financial resources by
- How to address the old versus new comfort levels and affirm the positive
- How to market the new system to the consumers on the training side
- How do the providers have input into the system
- How to provide just-in-time courses
- How to customize training
- WIA is small percentage of market, so how to make participants matter
to large institutions
- How will payment method work
- How do individuals handle large, complex service providers
- Who makes the decisions locally
- How to implement state requirements while maintaining flexibility at the
- Where will the physical facility be located to ensure participation by all
- How to maintain a certified vendor list: who does this, where is it kept,
and how does the appeals process work
- How to establish a common and consistent process for the provider list
Common Themes from Visioning Exercises
- Universal access (rural and urban customers)
- Training provider involvement
- Sharing of data with openness but confidentiality and quality assurance
- Flexibility and continuous improvement
- Staff involvement and empowerment