Posts Tagged ‘Workforce Connections’

Local Workforce Boards Awarded Funding Despite Ongoing Concerns Over Excessive Administrative Costs

By Sean Whaley | 4:50 pm August 14th, 2012

CARSON CITY – More than $27 million in federal job training funds were awarded to two local workforce development boards by the Board of Examiners today despite ongoing concerns about how the money is being spent by the Southern Nevada board, called Workforce Connections.

The Southern Nevada board will get more than $19 million in funding over the next two years despite the findings in an audit released earlier this year that it was spending nearly twice as much on administration and monitoring of programs than its Northern Nevada counterpart, Nevadaworks.

Dennis Perea, deputy director of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR), told the Board of Examiners that the funds are being awarded to the two local boards until such time as the U.S. Department of Labor grants a waiver to the state to have the funds administered instead by one statewide board. That decision is expected within the month, he said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, a member of the Board of Examiners, asked for assurances from Perea that the money would be spent on job training efforts and not excessive administrative expenses.

Sandoval and DETR are pushing for the new funding distribution plan that would replace the two local boards.

“There’s a lot of money involved here in these contracts, and are you confident that if these contracts were to be approved that the dollars would be spent wisely?” he asked Perea. “There was an audit, it didn’t go well. It sounds like there hasn’t been much improvement.”

Perea said the new management at Workforce Connections has made improvements, but there are still concerns about the amount of money being spent on administrative expenses.

“They are budgeting at about 20 percent of the funds being held at the board level for board expenses,” he said. “We’re in the process of talking about ways to limit that even further. But we do believe they are moving in the right direction, maybe not quick enough.”

The contracts were in front of the Board of Examiners because the two local boards are the vehicles to spend the job training funds at the current time, Perea said.

After the meeting, Perea said that if the waiver is approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, the grant funding would be redirected to a newly constituted state workforce board, possibly as early as January. The grant funds are paid out as they are spent by the local workforce boards, and so a transition would occur redirecting the funding to the new state board, he said.

The statewide and Northern Nevada workforce boards have approved the new proposal from DETR to administer the funds through one statewide board, but Workforce Connections has opposed the recommendation.

“As we sit here today we need to approve these contracts to get the money out because at the end of the day we need to help people,” Sandoval said. “But I just want, I’ve said this before, I want to make sure as many possible dollars get to the people that actually need it, than having it all eaten up with administration.”

DETR Director Frank Woodbeck has proposed the plan to consolidate the three separate boards that oversee workforce development into one, which is expected to result in $5 million more in federal funds directed annually to helping train job seekers to find employment.

The plan, “Moving Nevada Forward: A Plan For Excellence in Workforce Development,” was submitted to the Department of Labor last month.

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

But a recent audit of this system by the state Division of Internal Audits revealed that too many federal dollars are lost to administrative and duplicative costs.

“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 plan was released in May. “Administrative functions would be moved to DETR and community service providers will continue to deliver direct services to job seekers.”

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Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval asks for assurances the money will be spent appropriately:

081412Sandoval1 :20 be spent wisely?”

Sandoval says the money has to get into the hands of those people who actually need it:

081412Sandoval2 :17 up with administration.”

DETR Deputy Director Dennis Perea says too much money is still being spent on administration by the Southern Nevada board:

081412Perea :12 that even further.”

 

 

 

State Workforce Board Approves Consolidation Plan Opposed By Southern Nevada Officials

By Sean Whaley | 3:32 pm June 14th, 2012

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.”

Gov. Sandoval Pushing Forward With Workforce Board Consolidation Despite Opposition

By Sean Whaley | 1:10 pm June 13th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today he plans to move forward with the consolidation of two local workforce investment boards even though several Southern Nevada officials testified in opposition to the plan at a public hearing on Monday.

Sandoval said an audit by the state Internal Audit Division showed that not enough of the U.S. Department of Labor money was going to train the unemployed in Southern Nevada so they can find jobs. He said Southern Nevada officials will be well represented on the state board, which would assume control of the funding if the Labor Department gives its OK to the plan.

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“That wasn’t surprising,” he said of the testimony in opposition from Southern Nevada officials, including Ardell Galbreth, interim executive director of the Southern Nevada board called Workforce Connections. “I think everybody recognizes that that audit was conducted, and a lot of money was not getting to the people who need it the most.

“This effort is not to punish anybody,” Sandoval said. “It is to ensure that the monies that are collected, as much of that money can get to the beneficiaries, the people of the community. The folks in Southern Nevada will be very well represented on the statewide workforce investment board. And I think as they come to learn more (about) what I’m trying to accomplish, they will see that it is in the best interests of all of those people that they serve.”

The goal is to get as many dollars as possible to those who need training so they can find employment, he said.

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, the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation 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.

Galbreth said when the audit was released that the agency’s 2012 budget was revised to ensure that no more than 20 percent of the funding would go to program and administrative costs. The staff of 72 at the board is also being reduced to 34 by the end of the year if not before, he said. The six-figure salaries provided to five of eight staff have been cut, said Galbreth, who took over as interim director in April.

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:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he was not surprised at the opposition to the consolidation plan:

061312Sandoval1 :12 it the most.”

Sandoval says the proposal is not meant as punishment but to get the money to where it is needed most:

061312Sandoval2 :29 that they serve.”

 

Southern Nevadans Oppose Plan To Eliminate Local Workforce Development Board

By Sean Whaley | 12:00 pm June 11th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Representatives and supporters of the Clark County workforce investment board today strongly opposed a plan being pushed by Gov. Brian Sandoval to consolidate the two local boards in an effort to make more money available to train the unemployed.

At a public hearing on Sandoval’s proposal, Ardell Galbreth, interim executive director of Workforce Connections, read a letter opposing the plan, called  “Moving Nevada Forward: A Plan For Excellence in Workforce Development.”

He was joined by other speakers, including René Cantú Jr., executive director of the Latin Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation, and Richard Boulware, first vice president of the Las Vegas chapter of the NAACP, in opposing the consolidation proposal.

“Workforce Connections staff and board are responsive to the needs of local funded partners, and understand our community and our clients, and our own challenges of Southern Nevada nonprofits,” Cantú said. “Ardell Galbreth, interim director, has provided the Latin Chamber Foundation with tremendous commitment of support and here in the south they understand us and are committed to helping us.”

There is an overwhelming consensus in Southern Nevada that consolidation would threaten funding to groups like the Latin Chamber foundation, he said.

Job training tour by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. / Photo courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Labor.

“There’s also an overwhelming consensus that such a move would lead to less sensitivity to local needs, that it would skew funding north, that it would allow (the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitiation (DETR), to allot the funds arbitrarily and without accountability to the community, clients or funded partners,” Cantú said. “Based on these considerations I would ask, respectfully, that the boards be allowed to remain as they are.”

There is a need for reform, and Galbreth is moving in that direction, he said.

Boulware said people in the local community know best what their needs are.

“And what we don’t need, with all due respect to the state and to the governor, are people from outside of our local community telling us what we need and where we need to spend our money,” he said.

The NAACP will be opposing the proposed consolidation at all levels, Boulware said.

DETR officials heard public comment but took no immediate action on the proposal.

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 adults and dislocated workers.

Sandoval is moving forward with the consolidation plan following an audit of Workforce Connections that showed excessive spending on administration and other costs.

Galbreth, who took over leadership of the agency in April, said last month in  response to the audit that major changes have been implemented to reduce administrative and other costs.

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.”

Organizations currently contracted as service providers to citizens for workforce needs will continue in the same capacity, but will be managed by DETR staff instead of the northern and southern board offices. Federal funding designated for each of the local workforce investment areas will remain unchanged; no geographic area of the state gains or loses under the reorganization and existing providers can remain in place if they are delivering the appropriate level of service to the end-user.

The audit of the state’s two local workforce investment boards found the Southern Nevada agency spent nearly twice as much on administration and monitoring of its programs than its northern counterpart.

If the southern board cut its local expenses to mirror those of the northern Nevada board, another $1.9 million would have been available to job seekers in fiscal year 2011, the review found. The audit showed Workforce Connections spent 21 percent on administration and monitoring compared to only 11.3 percent in the north.

Sandoval is seeking to finalize the consolidation by the end of this year.

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Audio clips:

René Cantú Jr., the executive director of the Latin Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation, says Workforce Connections is responsive to the needs of the community:

061112Cantu1 :21 to helping us.”

Cantú Jr. says there are concerns that consolidation will skew funding to the north:

061112Cantu2 :26 as they are.”

Richard Boulware, first vice president of the Las Vegas chapter of the NAACP, says local officials know best how to help the community:

061112Boulware :13 spend our money.”

State Announces Plans To Consolidate Workforce Investment Boards

By Sean Whaley | 12:52 pm May 8th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A state agency announced today it plans to consolidate three separate boards that oversee workforce development into one, resulting in $5 million more in federal funds directed annually to helping train job seekers to find employment.

The plan, “Moving Nevada Forward: A Plan For Excellence in Workforce Development,” was released by the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR).

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.

But a recent audit of this system by the state Division of Internal Audits revealed that too many federal dollars are lost to administrative and duplicative costs.

“I have charged everyone in my administration with looking closely at the functions of their offices, boards and commissions to eliminate duplications and streamline services with the goal of leveraging resources already available and trimming unnecessary overhead,” Gov. Brian 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.”

Organizations currently contracted as service providers to citizens for workforce needs will continue in the same capacity, but will be managed by DETR staff instead of the northern and southern board offices. Federal funding designated for each of the local workforce investment areas will remain unchanged; no geographic area of the state gains or loses under the reorganization and existing providers can remain in place if they are delivering the appropriate level of service to the end-user.

“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,” DETR Director Frank R. Woodbeck said. “Administrative functions would be moved to DETR and community service providers will continue to deliver direct services to job seekers.”

The restructuring is expected to be complete by December 2012.

The audit of the state’s two local workforce investment boards found the Southern Nevada agency spent nearly twice as much on administration and monitoring of its programs than its northern counterpart.

If the southern board cut its local expenses to mirror those of the northern Nevada board, another $1.9 million would have been available to job seekers in fiscal year 2011, the review found. The audit showed the Southern Nevada board, called Workforce Connections, spent 21 percent on administration and monitoring compared to only 11.3 percent in the north.

Ardell Galbreth, interim executive director of Workforce Connections, said that major changes have been implemented to reduce administrative and other costs. He took the position on April 5.

Galbreth said last week the 2012 budget has been revised to ensure that no more than 20 percent of the funding will go to program and administrative costs. The staff of 72 at the board is also being reduced to 34 by the end of the year if not before, he said.

 

Southern Nevada Workforce Board Cuts Staff, Spending After Audit Shows High Administrative Costs

By Sean Whaley | 12:54 pm May 1st, 2012

CARSON CITYAn audit of the state’s two local workforce investment boards has found the Southern Nevada agency spent nearly twice as much on administration and monitoring of its programs than its northern counterpart.

If the southern board cut its local expenses to mirror those of the northern Nevada board, another $1.9 million would have been available to job seekers in fiscal year 2011, the review by the state Division of Internal Audits found. The audit showed the Southern Nevada board, called Workforce Connections, spent 21 percent on administration and monitoring compared to only 11.3 percent in the north.

The audit also noted that the southern board’s budget plans for fiscal year 2012 indicated it intends to use nearly 30 percent of available federal funding on administration, monitoring and other program services.

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.

The audit recommended that the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) and the State Workforce Investment Board, which oversee the program, limit the amount of money the local boards could spend on such expenses.

The audit was reviewed today by the Executive Branch Audit Committee, made up of the six constitutional officers, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, and one public member.

At the meeting, Ardell Galbreth, interim executive director of Workforce Connections, told the committee that major changes have been implemented to reduce administrative and other costs. He took the position on April 5.

Galbreth told the panel that the 2012 budget has been revised to ensure that no more than 20 percent of the funding will go to program and administrative costs. The staff of 72 at the board is also being reduced to 34 by the end of the year if not before, he said. The six-figure salaries provided to five of eight staff have been cut, Galbreth said.

In addition to the savings from the budget cuts, the agency expects another $1.7 million will be added to provide direct employment assistance to those in need, he said.

“I have outlined a budget that has been approved by the southern board, Workforce Connections, where there would be no more than 10 percent for program cost and 10 percent for administrative cost,” Galbreth said. “This past program year we served just over 5,000 clients, 5,149; we’re anticipating that approximately 9,000; almost doubling the amount of clients to be served.

“All of the findings that were discussed or indicated in the report, they either have been addressed or are in the process of being addressed,” he said.

A document provided to the Nevada News Bureau shows that the northern Nevada board, Nevadaworks, employs 11 people at a cost of $823,000 in salary and benefits this year. Chief Executive Officer Tom Fitzgerald is making six figures with salary and benefits totaling $165,000. A second employee is making $102,466 with benefits.

The document showed 50 employees at Workforce Connections with a total salary of $3.2 million. It does not specify if benefits are included in the total.

Former Executive Director John Ball had an annual salary of $168,000. Seven other employees had salaries of $105,000. The document does not show revised salaries or eliminated positions.

The audit also noted that the state is considering seeking a waiver from the Department of Labor to allow for the creation of a single state board to control the funding rather than have the two local boards continue to operate.

Galbreth said local elected officials who serve on the board, as well as community members, are interested in maintaining local control of the program.

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki questioned why it took the audit to prompt the action by Workforce Connections to get its spending under control.

“It should be somewhat startling that it took this process to identify those surplus expenditures; really at a premium to other similar operations not only in the state but in the region,” he said. “I appreciate people wanting local control, usually my philosophical approach is ‘closer is better,’ but I think there is a very compelling story as to why a single state system makes some sense.”

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Audio clips:

Ardell Galbreth of Workforce Connections says positions have been cut and administrative spending reduced:

050112Galbreth1 :26 for administrative cost.”

Galbreth says the spending reductions will mean more money for job seekers:

050112Galbreth2 :13 to be served.”

Galbreth says all the issues raised in the audit are being addressed:

050112Galbreth3 :08 of being addressed”

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki questions why it took the audit to focus on spending by the board:

050112Krolicki :27 makes some sense.”

 

 

 

 

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.”