Posts Tagged ‘nevadaworks’

Labor Department Rejects Proposed Nevada Workforce Investment Board Consolidation Plan

By Sean Whaley | 2:11 pm September 13th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The U.S. Department of Labor has rejected Nevada’s request for a waiver to consolidate its three workforce investment boards into one, due largely to opposition to the plan by the Southern Nevada panel.

Frank Woodbeck, director of the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation had proposed the plan to consolidate the three separate boards that oversee workforce development, which was expected to reduce administrative expenses by $5 million.

DETR Director Frank Woodbeck.

“The waiver request was submitted in July, and we received a response in August to our request and that request was denied,” he told the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board at its meeting today. “The denial was based on the fact that the members of the southern board were in opposition to the waiver and the consolidation.”

The Northern Nevada and state boards supported the consolidation effort.

But Woodbeck noted that the consolidation effort has produced some positive results, including a significant reduction in administrative expenses incurred by the southern Nevada board, called Workforce Connections, under the leadership of Executive Director Ardell Galbreth.

Galbreth, who took over initially as interim director in April, reduced several top six-figure salaries and the size of the agency’s staff by more than half.

Woodbeck said the effort at consolidation has improved communications between his agency and the two local boards.

“So the work at trying to do board consolidation, etc., has not gone for naught,” he said. “It has been successful to a great degree in that we have a much greater line of communication with the directors of the two local boards, and I think we’ll make progress as time goes on.”

Woodbeck, with Gov. Brian Sandoval’s support, had sought the consolidation in part because of excessive administrative costs identified in audits of Workforce Connections.

The most recent audit, performed by the state Division of Internal Audits and released in May, found that Workforce Connections spent nearly twice as much on administration and monitoring of its programs than its northern counterpart.

More than $27 million in federal job training funds were awarded to the two local workforce development boards by the Board of Examiners in August, before the decision on the waiver had been made by the U.S. Department of Labor. The Southern Nevada board received more than $19 million in funding for the coming two years.

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Audio clips:

DETR Director Frank Woodbeck said the effort to consolidate the workforce boards has been rejected:

091312Woodbeck1 :15 and the consolidation.”

But Woodbeck says the effort has produced some positive results:

091312Woodbeck2 :20 time goes on.”

 

State Workforce Consolidation Plan Gains Support From Northern Nevada Elected Officials

By Sean Whaley | 3:35 pm June 20th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Local elected officials representing the Northern Nevada workforce development agency have endorsed a plan to restructure the delivery of job training funds to Nevadans, including eliminating the two local boards now involved in the process.

The 13 local elected officials who oversee the northern agency, called Nevadaworks, have unanimously endorsed the consolidation plan put forward by Frank R. Woodbeck, director of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR). If approved, the changes are expected to free up $5 million for job training that is now consumed by administrative costs incurred by the two local boards.

“On behalf of the local elected officials of the 13 Northern Nevada counties represented by Nevadaworks, please accept this letter in support of your agency’s plan,” said Norman Frey, chairman of the Nevadaworks board and a Churchill County commissioner, in a letter sent to Woodbeck on June 11.

The statewide Governor’s Workforce Investment Board has also unanimously supported the consolidation plan, which will require a waiver from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Elected officials representing the Southern Nevada workforce agency, called Workforce Connections, are opposing the consolidation effort, however, citing concerns over local control and the potential loss of job training funds in the south.

Gov. Brian Sandoval is strongly in support of the consolidation effort

In an Op-ed column published earlier this month in the Nevada Appeal, he said the plan will not change the structure of the workforce investment areas (one north and one south); and will not change the allocation of funding to the areas, which is set by the Department of Labor.

“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,” he said. “A key area of focus for my administration is building the type of trained workforce that will support economic diversification.”

Woodbeck said he is pursing the consolidation, outlined in a plan called “Moving Nevada Forward – A Plan for Excellence in Workforce Development” in part because of excessive administrative costs identified in audits of Workforce Connections.

The most recent audit, performed by the state Division of Internal Audits, found that Workforce Connections spent nearly twice as much on administration and monitoring of its programs than its northern counterpart.

But it is also about efficiency and linking job training with the state’s new plan for economic diversification and job growth, he said.

Ardell Galbreth, interim executive director of Workforce Connections since April, has testified that he has made numerous spending reductions at the agency as a result of the audit, including eliminating staff and reducing several six-figure salaries.

Woodbeck said the consolidation plan calls for significant change

Woodbeck said in a telephone interview today that he would like to have the support of both local boards in seeking the waiver from the Department of Labor, but that he will move forward regardless. The wavier will be filed July 1 along with the state’s plan, with a decision expected by the fall.

“Efficiency and effectiveness is really what we’re trying to achieve here,” Woodbeck said. “And it is a change in the system. And when you change anything, people get a little nervous about that.”

The two local boards have been in existence since the Workforce Investment Act was signed into law in 1998.

The consolidation, if approved, will still keep local elected officials involved in the process, including representation on the governor’s board and on the seven Industry Sector Councils created as part of Sandoval’s overall economic diversification and development strategy, he said.

“So it’s really a transferring of the expertise, essentially,” Woodbeck said. “To either the governor’s board or to the Industry Sector Councils. And in fact the governor has agreed to expand the number of local elected officials on the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board. So they will really be the oversight folks and they will have four local elected officials on there from various regions.”

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.

Funding would continue to flow to these public and private organizations under the new consolidation plan.

The U.S. Department of Labor provided about $29.5 million in fiscal year 2011 to Nevada for the programs that are intended to help improve the employability of participants, including both youth and adults.

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Audio clips:

DETR Director Frank Woodbeck says change is not always easy:

062012Woodbeck1 :10 nervous about that.”

Woodbeck says Gov. Brian Sandoval has agreed to expand local elected representation on the state investment board:

062012Woodbeck2 :26 from various regions.”

Employment Training Contracts Worth Nearly $24 Million Approved By State Board

By Sean Whaley | 4:33 pm July 20th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The state Board of Examiners today approved contracts worth nearly $24 million in federal funds to provide employment and training services to job seekers as Nevada continues to lead the nation in unemployment.

The contracts were approved by Gov. Brian Sandoval and Secretary of State Ross Miller after Sandoval received assurances that the two contracts for Nevadaworks in northern Nevada would be managed consistent with any findings in an audit of the workforce investment board now under way.

Cindy Jones, administrator of the state Employment Security Division, assured Sandoval that the money would be expended by Nevadaworks in compliance with federal and state rules.

Cindy Jones of the Employment Security Division responds to questions about job training contracts today at a Board of Examiners meeting. / Photo: Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau

The three Nevadaworks contracts approved by the board are worth $6.8 million. The three contracts with Workforce Connections in southern Nevada are worth $16.9 million.

After the meeting, Jones said there is an audit under way of Nevadaworks as part of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation’s normal oversight of the contracts. The review is being performed by the state Division of Internal Audits. The audit is not complete and no findings are yet publicly available for review.

The funds are used to train jobless Nevadans for new types of work where there is demand, as well as provide everything from work boots to child care subsidies to assist people in securing a job.

The approval of the contracts comes as Nevada continues to borrow money from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits.

Jones said the state has borrowed $775 million from the federal government to date to pay benefits. The first interest payment of $29.1 million on that borrowed money is due in September. The state has allocated $64 million to make the interest payments over the two years of the current budget.

The state will not be able to repay the federal loans in the near term, she said. Nevada, like more than 30 other states, is continuing to borrow from the federal government to pay benefits, Jones said.

The agency this fall will review the status of the state’s unemployment trust fund, which is funded with a tax on employer payrolls, to assess what the tax rate for calendar year 2012 will be, Jones said.

Nevada employers this year are paying on average a tax rate of 2 percent on the first $26,600 of each employee’s wages. The 2010 rate was 1.33 percent. But the $410 million in revenue projected from the higher tax rate this year is still not enough to pay benefits and begin repaying the federal loan.

And while the federal loans were interest free for the first two years, those payments must be made beginning this year unless Congress takes some action to extend the grace period, Jones said.

Jones said she does not yet know what course the Employment Security Council will take with regard to the 2012 tax rate when it meets in October.

Nevada’s jobless rate was 12.1 percent in May, down from its peak of 14.9 percent but still highest in the nation.

Audio clips:

Cindy Jones, administrator of the state Employment Security Division, says the audits are a regular part of the agency’s oversight of the funds:

072011Jones1 :24 to our constituents.”