REAUTHORIZATION OF THE WORKFORCE INVESTMENT ACT

WHEREAS, Congress must reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) by September 30, 2003. Mayors recognize that this early beginning of the reauthorization discussion is simply that a beginning; and

WHEREAS, WIA created a national network of statewide, locally-driven workforce investment systems, led by local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) who have responsibility for system-wide coordination of resources and services; and

WHEREAS, Mayors are the drivers of this system and strong local authority and flexibility for Mayors and their local WIBs must remain at the core of WIA to ensure that the needs of local and regional employers are met; and

WHEREAS, WIA contains activities such as workforce preparation, delivery of training and education services leading to self-sufficiency, career planning, and life-long learning; and

WHEREAS, WIA recognizes that Mayors and chief local elected officials and their WIBs are responsible for creating a workforce system that responds to local labor markets, local employers and residents, and local economic development strategies; and

WHEREAS, over the past year Mayors have led a national initiative - the Mayors' Skills Summits - to call attention to regional labor market issues and the widening skills gap by bringing together Mayors and the private sector with local WIBs, educators, labor and community leaders and, despite vast differences in labor markets across the country, the same conclusion was reached at each Skills Summit - that there must be a major investment in basic and occupational skills; and

WHEREAS, local relationship building and innovation have made a difference, and are meeting the intent of Congress, breaking through barriers to integration and coordination that exist at the federal and state level, (see October 4, 2001 GAO report, Workforce Investment Act: Better Guidance Needed to Address Concerns Over New Requirements) and, some of greatest gains in coordination between programs has occurred at the local level, (see March 12, 2002 GAO report, WIA Coordination Between TANF Programs and One-Stop Centers is Increasing, But Challenges Remain) and, state and federal barriers to local implementation have not been addressed; and

WHEREAS, business is very much engaged at the local level and Mayors are encouraged by the level of business leader participation in the local WIBs and are working with local Chambers of Commerce and other business organizations to ensure responsiveness to business; and

WHEREAS, it is clear that a business-oriented report card is needed to measure the system - one that business understands, not more performance standards; and

WHEREAS, while Mayors are committed to accountability, the United States Department of Labor's 17 performance measures do not capture what local workforce systems do (see February 1, 2002 GAO report, Workforce Investment Act: Improvements Needed in Performance Measures to Provide a More Accurate Picture of WIA's Effectiveness) and, no other federal program reporting is as complicated and focused on each individual as WIA; and

WHEREAS, while Congress created a universally accessible One-Stop system, the lack of funding to support the local One-Stop system has contributed to limited financial contributions and limited commitment of One-Stop partners; and

WHEREAS, because Congress required the Employment Service to be a partner in the locally-governed One-Stop system, the Employment Service must be accountable to the local WIBs; and

WHEREAS, WIA provides for informed customer choice, yet the mechanics of the Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) have resulted in limited choice for customer

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that strong local authority and flexibility for Mayors and their WIBs must remain at the core of WIA to ensure that needs of local and regional employers are met; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in the regulations following reauthorization, wherever authority is not assigned explicitly to a particular party, the U.S. Department of Labor should reinforce Congress' intent that state and local levels negotiate as equal partners in the workforce development system; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Congress, the Administration, and the U.S. Department of Labor must recognize the findings of the Mayors' Skills Summits and provide adequate resources for training necessary to meet employers' needs and to attain and sustain economic recovery; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls for more resources and flexibility to address sectoral initiatives and incumbent worker training at the local level where both are essential to the local economy; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on the Administration and Governors to remove state and federal barriers to local implementation of WIA; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that because the development of a new design for performance measurement is absolutely critical to assure successful outcomes for our customers, and for the credibility of the workforce system, The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls upon Congress and the U.S. Department of Labor to support the new performance measures developed jointly by The U.S. Conference of Mayors and other key WIA partners; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls upon Congress to approve the technical amendments in the reauthorization of WIA that were passed in the House of Representatives in the second session of the 106th Congress under H.R. 4216, which allows eligibility for the National School Lunch Program as a criterion for serving youth under WIA, provides greater flexibility to work with businesses using customized training and provides coordination between WIA funded training and unemployment compensation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls for universal access for core services to youth in WIA reauthorization and apply the lessons learned in the Youth Opportunity and Rewarding Youth Achievement grants. The current ten WIA youth elements should be connected in a youth development strategy that will lead to the critical outcome of transitioning youth into productive adulthood; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls for Congress to enable local WIBs to cover their current responsibilities under the Act by expanding their authority in the legislation to include all of the systems and programs that are part of WIA including the Employment Service; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Congress must fully fund the One-Stop system through the provisions of sufficient funds for all partners and ensure that all partners contribute financially so they will have a vested interest in the One-Stop system; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on Congress to provide clear accountability and performance measures for the Employment Service to ensure alignment with the goals of local WIBs and to ensure that the Employment Service provides outcomes for both job seekers and employers, and financial support to the local One-Stop system; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on Congress to revisit the Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) because of its limited choice for customers and to allow local boards to waive the ETPL requirements when they do not provide adequate training providers as long as they assure informed customer choice; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls upon the U.S. Department of Labor to facilitate the sharing of local urban best practices by funding The U.S. Conference of Mayors to collect the most promising practices of local programs.