The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (HR 1892), signed into law last week, has at least one other new evidence-based program to go along with its other provisions on child welfare, pay-for-success, and the MIECHV reauthorization.
This one, which will be run by the Department of Labor (DOL), will fund evidence-based reemployment services to help people on unemployment insurance obtain jobs. It looks like it could begin as soon as FY 2019 (which starts October 1, 2018). It may need to be funded through the regular appropriations process first, but some reports suggest it is already funded through mandatory allocations.
Here are some of the key provisions (see the related bill text for full details):
- Evidence Definitions: The law directs DOL to define the relevant evidence standards, including programs that are backed by “high or moderate causal evidence.”
- Evidence Building Requirements: Any funded intervention that does not meet the law’s high or moderate evidence requirements must be evaluated. However, no more than 10 percent of federal grant funds can be spent on these evaluations. Within three years, DOL is directed to submit a report to Congress describing promising interventions used by the states.
- Evidence Use Requirements: Program funds may only be spent on programs that are “demonstrated to reduce the number of weeks for which program participants receive unemployment compensation by improving employment outcomes.” Starting in FY 2023, however, at least 25 percent of the funds must be spent on reemployment programs backed by high or moderate causal evidence (see above). This percentage increases to at least 50 percent by 2026.
The program is authorized at $33 million in FY 2019, $58 million in FY 2020, and $83 million in FY 2021, with higher amounts in subsequent years. The program provides formula funding to states (which includes an outcomes-based component). States may then provide subgrants for the eligible services, depending on the details of their approved state plans.
How much evidence exists for these services now? One example is the Nevada Reemployment and Eligibility Assessment Program, which was rated as “Near Top Tier” by the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy. Others can presumably be found on DOL’s Clearinghouse for Labor Evaluation and Research.