Employment and Training Administration
Washington, D. C. 20210






February 22, 2000















Deputy Assistant Secretary




Work-Flex Transition Guidelines Under WIA


  1. Purpose. To provide guidelines for implementation of the Work-Flex waiver authority authorized by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998.

  2. References. Department of Labor (DOL) Appropriations Acts for funds available. in Program Year (PY) 199? (Pub. L. 104-208) and PY 1998 (Pub. L. 105-78); Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (Pub. L. 105-220, 192); 20 CFR Part 661, Subpart D, WIA Interim Final Rule, (published at 64 FR 18662 (Apr. 15, 1999)); Planning Guidance and Instructions for Submission of the Strategic Five-Year Plan. for Title I of WIA and the Wagner-Peyser Act (published at 64 FR 9402 (Feb. 25, 1999)); State Unified Plan Planning Guidance (Federal Register Notice (Jan. 14, 2000)).

  3. Background. The Workforce Flexibility Partnership Demonstration Program (Work-Flex) was established pursuant to the Work-Flex waiver authority provided in DOL's Appropriations Act for PY 1997 (Pub: L. 104-208) and PY 1998 (Pub. L. 10578), for funds available through PY 2001, i.e., through June 30, 2002.

    The Work-Flex program provided authority to States to grant waivers of certain provisions of Titles I-IIl of the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) requested by Service Delivery Areas (SDAs) or Substate Areas (SSAs). It also authorized the Secretary of Labor to waive certain provisions of 8-10 of the Wagner-Peyser Act included in an approved Work-Flex Plan (with certain exceptions). The Secretary was authorized to grant this authority to up to six States for up to five years. In January 1998, the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) National Office selected six Work-Flex States (Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota and Texas) through a competitive process.

  4. Work-Flex Transition to WIA. The Workforce Investment Act, at 192, expands the eligibility for Work-Flex authority to all States. The 6-State Work-Flex demonstration program initiated under JTPA is continued under WTA, as authorized by the Secretary. Prior to WiA, the extent to which JTPA programs developed integrated, comprehensive delivery systems was primarily determined at the local level. School-to-Work, One-Stop arid Welfare-to-Work served to encourage and reward programs that took a more systemwide approach to consolidation and integration of programs both within and outside of JTPA. WIA, and the flexibility it provides, builds on these earlier efforts to develop and streamline local and statewide workforce investment systems.

    The Work-Flex provisions under WIA are essentially the same as those under JTPA. One difference is that, unlike the demonstration program, WIA Work-Flex designations will be made on a noncompetitive basis.

    WIA tightens current authorizing language contained in the Department's Appropriations Act by adding several new provisions to the list of provisions that are exempted from the Work-Flex waiver authority under JTPA. These new exemptions are: the basic purposes of WIA, Title I; establishment and functions of local areas and local. boards; review and approval of local plans; and worker rights, participation and protection. Other exemptions are discussed below.

    While in general there arc fewer requirements to be waived under WIA, the Department believes the new Work-Flex authority will provide valuable flexibility to States and local areas as they implement the new legislation.

  5. WIA Work-Flex Provisions. Under Work-Flex, Governors are granted the authority to approve requests for waivers of certain statutory and regulatory provisions of the WIA statute (Title I) submitted by their local areas. States may also request froth the Secretary waivers of certain requirements of the Wagner-Peyser Act ( 810) and certain provisions of the Older Americans Act applicable to State agencies that administer the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). [SCSEP is authorized by Title V of the Older Americans Act and provides part-tune community service employment to low-income persons age 55 and over through grants from the ETA National Office. It is not included in the current JTPA Work-Flex Program.] The Secretary may grant Work-Flex authority for a period of not more than five years.

  6. Performance. The legislative intent of the Work-Flex provisions is to authorize States arid Local Areas the operational flexibility they need to improve employment and training productivity for adult, dislocated, and youth populations. One of the underlying principles of Work-Flex is that it will result in improved performance outcomes for persons served and that waiver authority willbe granted in consideration of improved performance. As indicated at 20 CFR 661.440(b), a State's Work-Flex designation is conditioned on the State demonstrating it has met the agreed upon outcomes contained in its Work-Flex Plan.

    Furthermore, Title I of WIA calls for a comprehensive accountability system to assess the effectiveness of State and local areas in providing employment and training services; it requires a focus on results defined by the core performance indicators; measures of customer satisfaction; emphasis on continuous improvement; annual performance levels developed as a result of partner negotiations; incentive awards and financial sanctions based an performance; and dissemination of reports and results.

    The Department is developing the WIA accountability system in three stages: (a) develop definitions of core measures and temporary reporting instructions for "early implementing" States in PY 1999; (b) work with States and local governments to develop improved definitions and reporting requirements for PY 2000 and beyond; and (c) develop common definitions of performance measures across programs with ETA, the Department of Education and other Federal agencies.

    The Department is planning to develop final accountability guidance by January 2000, which describes the entire system, including assigned responsibilities, and specifics regarding waivers, Work-Flex, and related provisions of the Act. This will provide sufficient time for States interested in Work-Flex to incorporate their requests either in their WIA Strategic plans or in related plans for a July 1, 2000 incorporate WIA implementation.

  7. Six-State Demonstration Program. The Work-Flex demonstration States and local areas may use their existing Work-Flex and/or general waiver authority and allowable activities under JTPA, to plan for and implement WIA reforms. Activities that are allowable durin this phase include: (1) strategic planning; (2) establishment of State and local workforce investment boards; (3) consultation with One-Stop partners; (4) establishment of ITA systems; and (5) establishment of consumer report systems.

    Work-Flex States planning to submit State Plans by April 1, 2000. for WIA implementation beginning on July 1, 2000 (Identified as "Option 3 States" in the WIA planning guidance) may transition to WIA using JTPA authority, existing Work-Flex and general waiver authority and the authority under WIA to spend up to 2 percent of JTPA funds (50% of which must be made available to local areas) for the transition planning activities indicated above. (See 20 CFR 667.900 and 2/25199 Federal Register Notice on Planning Guidance.)

    The six demonstration States are not required to submit new Work-Flex Plans. Rather, their current plans will be modified to provide for the transition to WIA and adherence to the Work-Flex provisions in WIA 192. Specific Wagner-Peyser Act waivers granted to a State under Work-Flex will be extended on the same basis. The Governor may allow existing JTPA Work-Flex waivers that are applicable to WIA provisions to continue in effect under WIA. JTPA waivers not related to WIA may be continued for the duration of the JTPA grant and fund availability. Demonstration Stags will retain their current reporting requirements until further notice.

  8. National Emergency Grants. Applications of existing general statutory or regulatory waivers and Work-Flex waivers to National Emergency Grants authorized under 173 of WIA may be requested by State and Local Board grantees, and approved by the Department. The application for grant funds must describe any waivers which the applicant wishes to apply to the project that the State has approved for implementation in the applicable area under Work-Flex waivers, or that the State and Local Board, as applicable, have been granted under their general statutory/regulatory waiver plan. The grant application must identify the provisions to be waived, the operational barriers to be removed, and the effects on the outcome of the project. The; Department considers such requests as part of the overall application review and decision process.

    If, during the operation of a National Emergency Grant project, the grantee wishes to apply a waiver not identified in the application, the grantee must request a modification which includes the provision to be waived, the operational barriers to be removed and the effect upon the outcome of the project. (20 CFR 671.150)

  9. Single State Workforce Investment Areas. A Stag which has been designated by the. Governor as a single State local area under WIA 116(b) may apply for Work-Flex designation. If a State indicates in the WIA Title I State Plan that the State will be treated as a local area under Title I, the Governor may designate the State Board to carry out any of the prescribed functions of the Local Board for the purposes of Work- Flex. Therefore, all references in this TEGL, to local areas/boards will include a State Board performing the functions of a Local Board.in a single local area State.

    In addition to the information in item 10, below, Single State Area Work-Flex Plans should describe the process and time line used to provide an opportunity for public comment, including how local chief elected officials, representatives of businesses and labor organizations, and other appropriate partners provided input into the development of. the Work-Flex Plan, prior to the submission of the plan. Consistent with WIA 117(c)(4) (Single State Area), the plan should identify the types of entities authorized by the Governor to request waivers on behalf of the local area, e.g., local elected officials, regional workforce investment boards, the business community, labor organizations, program operators/seiwice providers, welfare agencies, and community based organizations, as appropriate. If the plan is submitted aa a part of the 5-year Strategic Plan, this section need only reference the pertinent parts) of the 5-year plan. Include a summary of any comments received on the Work-Flex Flan, and demonstrate how comments were considered in the plait development process. (WIA 117(c)(4); 118(b)(7) and (c)(3); and I92(b))

  10. Work-Flex Plan Development. States requesting designation as a Work-Flex State must submit a Work-Flex Plan which includes descriptions of:

  11. Work-Flex Plan Submission. 

  12. Exceptions. Work-Flex waivers may not be granted unless requested by and granted to local Workforce Investment Areas, as defined in WiA 116, and in accordance with procedures described in the State Work-Flex Plan. The following statutory and regulatory requirements are excluded from the Work-Flex authority and may not be waived:

  13. Regional Office Role. Under JTPA, the ETA Regional Offices have not been fully involved in the Work-Flex Demonstration Program primarily due to the competitive nature of the selection process. Now that Work-Flex has been expanded to alt States on a noncompetitive basis under WIA, the Regional Offices will take a more active role in the management of the program. In addition to day-to-day monitoring and oversight activities, this will involve assisting States in developing Work-Flex applications and reviewing the applications in conjunction with National Office staff. Specifically, Regional Offices wall be responsible for reviewing, negotiating and recommending National Office disposition of Work-Flex State Plans.

  14. Reporting. Separate Work-Flex reports are not required. The reporting of Work-Flex activities will be included in the standard MA reporting instructions for financial, participant and performance reports issued by ETA. (20 CFR 667.300) As indicated above, the six demonstration States will, retain their current reporting requirements.

  15. Action Required.

  16. Inquiries. Questions concerning this directive nay be addressed to the appropriate ETA Regional Office.