Panel Paper: Working Together to Move Individuals to Employment: Hhs' Lessons from Cross-Agency Collaboration on Federal Subsidized Employment Evaluations

Friday, November 9, 2018
Lincoln 3 - Exhibit Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Girley Wright, Administration for Children and Families

During the Great Recession of 2008, the United States observed a renewed interest in subsidized employment programs that use public funds to create or support jobs for the unemployed. This interest was spurred both by investments in subsidized employment as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and promising results from prior research on subsidized employment. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched the Subsidized and Transitional Employment Demonstration (STED) and the U.S. Department of Labor launched the Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration (ETJD) evaluation. These complementary studies, which both featured a multi-site random assignment design, sought to build evidence on the effectiveness of the next generation of subsidized employment programs. Importantly, DOL’s ETJD tested the impacts of a DOL grant program that targeted transitional jobs for individuals who were recently released from prison or were low-income noncustodial parents behind in child support payments. In contrast but certainly overlapping, STED focused on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients, disadvantaged youth, and other low-income populations.

Although they were developed separately, the simultaneous launch of these two large-scale, Federal studies provided a unique opportunity for Federal cross-agency collaboration. By working together, HHS and DOL were able to maximize resources for the two studies, coordinate on measurement and reporting, and ensure a consistent approach to building evidence on this topic. Moreover, collaboration presented a chance to avoid duplication and practice good government principles. This presentation will describe the cross-project collaboration between DOL’s ETJD and HHS’ STED studies, beginning with setting up these arrangements; coordinating study designs, establishing comparable outcome measures and joint data collection instruments; handling shared evaluation sites; communicating on an ongoing basis throughout the studies; and developing shared reporting and dissemination activities. This unique collaboration also supports a broader effort to strengthen HHS/DOL research, evaluation and program linkages and to foster greater connectivity between the public workforce system and TANF programs. The lessons learned throughout this collaboration will help other agencies and audience members as they think about ways to leverage existing resources in their work. While the ETJD-STED collaboration has been successful, it was not without its challenges. The presentation will discuss the challenges that HHS and DOL faced as part of this collaboration, and how the two agencies addressed these challenges. Given the close collaboration between HHS and DOL, integral staff from each of these efforts will speak jointly about their coordination on this topic.