State Workforce Board Approves Consolidation Plan Opposed By Southern Nevada Officials

CARSON CITY – The Governor’s Workforce Investment Board today unanimously approved a plan to consolidate two local boards in an effort to free up $5 million in federal funds to train the unemployed.

The move, which requires approval from the U.S. Department of Labor, is opposed by Workforce Connections, the Southern Nevada workforce investment board.

The vote came after Ardell Galbreth, interim executive director of the local board, restated his opposition to the proposal, which was developed after an audit identified excessive spending by the local board on administrative costs. Other Southern Nevada officials also oppose the move, and they expressed their opposition at a public hearing on Monday.

Frank Woodbeck, director of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR), said the proposal to consolidate the two local boards with the state board will be submitted to the Department of Labor by the end of the month. A decision is expected by the end of the year, he said.

DETR Director Frank Woodbeck.

Woodbeck said it wasn’t just the most recent audit, but earlier reports that also identified concerns, which led to the decision to move forward with consolidation.

“So it was after long deliberation, and after a history of facts, that we reached this particular conclusion,” he said.

“This new plan will result in a significant amount of funds being spent directly for much-needed services, as we are essentially removing an administrative layer of expense,” Woodbeck said when the consolidation plan was announced last month.

Galbreth, who has been interim director of Workforce Connections only since April, has taken a number of actions to reduce administrative costs, including reducing the staff from 72 to 34.

Galbreth read a letter at the meeting of the state board, saying the state plan prepared by DETR has many good elements.

“However, with considerable thought and all due respect to the governor and the state officials, the Southern Nevada Workforce Investment Area Chief Local Elected Official Consortium strongly opposes the state plan to establish a single, consolidated workforce investment board to oversee the delivery of statewide workforce development services,” he said.

Concerns are whether Southern Nevada will continue to receive a full share of funding under the new configuration, and the view that local control of the funds is superior to having the money distributed by a statewide board, Galbreth said.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, a member of the state board, questioned why local officials would oppose the plan.

“The dollars need to get out to the community,” she said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval is moving forward with the proposal despite the opposition, saying the consolidation will put more money into efforts to train the unemployed to find jobs.

The audit found that Workforce Connections spent nearly twice as much on administration and monitoring of its programs than its northern counterpart. Following the release of the audit, DETR announced its plan to consolidate the two local boards with the state board.

Currently, funding is provided from the federal Department of Labor to the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board and funneled to two local boards, one in Southern Nevada and the other in Northern Nevada. These boards in turn contract with public and private organizations to offer workforce training programs to youth and adult and dislocated workers.

The U.S. Department of Labor provided about $29.5 million in fiscal year 2011 to Nevada for the programs that supported over 26,000 participants. The programs are intended to help improve the employability of participants.

In announcing the plan to change the operation of the boards, Sandoval said: “This new plan calls for greater collaboration between workforce development and the newly restructured Governor’s Office Economic Development, which earlier this year released its plan under the ‘Moving Nevada Forward’ label as well. A key area of focus for my administration is building the type of trained workforce that will support economic diversification.”

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Audio clips:

Ardell Galbreth, interim executive director of Workforce Connections, says Southern Nevada officials oppose the consolidation plan:

061412Galbreth :22 workforce development services.”

Frank Woodbeck, director of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR), says it was not just the recent audit but previous findings that led to the proposal:

061412Woodbeck :07 this particular conclusion.”