Employment and Training Administration
Washington, D. C. 20210






November 21, 1990




June 30, 1992











for Regional Management




Grant Award for the Delivery of Technical Assistance to State Employment Security Agencies (SESAs) in Unemployment Insurance Quality Control (UIQC) Program Improvement (PI) Study Design and Implementation

  1. Purposes. 

    1. To announce a grant award to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry for a technical assistance (TA) program to aid SESAs in the design and implementation of Unemployment Insurance PI studies and

    2. To provide information regarding the project work plan, including the TA that the grantee will offer the State agencies during the 18-month grant period.

  2. References. UIPL 33-89; and UIPL 35-90.

  3. Background. Since the beginning of Quality Control (QC), National Office (NO) UI policy has encouraged the SESAs to plan and conduct program studies, based upon QC and other UI baseline program data. Such studies are seen as a potential means of moving the SESAs beyond QC data collection to UI program data analysis and practical program improvements. In order to facilitate such studies, SESAs were allowed to reduce their sampling levels for specified periods and to divert QC staff resources to conducting such studies. As of mid-1990, 17 States had conducted one or more program improvement studies. Final reports generated vary widely, from brief and sketchy to detailed and substantive.

    To support and enhance the efforts of SESAs in developing sound study designs that not only produce supportable findings, but also result in implementation of useful UI program adjustments, the NO issued UIPL 35-90 in July 1990. This solicitation for grant applications from SESAs to administer and deliver special technical assistance throughout FY 1991 and beyond resulted in a grant award to the Pennsylvania SESA in September. The project began October 1, 1990, and will continue through March of 1992.

  4. Project Objectives. The objectives of this TA project agreed to by the Department of Labor and the Pennsylvania agency are:

    1. survey SESA principals regarding their needs for and interest in research study TA;

    2. develop a Technical Assistance Guide (TAG) for use by SESAs in designing and conducting PI studies;

    3. conduct research design workshops and training for staff representatives of the State agencies and

    4. provide ongoing technical assistance (indirect and onsite) to SESAs preparing study proposals during the grant period.

  5. Summary of Grantee's Project Plan. 

    1. Grant Staff Pennsylvania will provide two full-time research technicians to manage the project: Robert J. Dougherty, Project Administrator and Stephen L. Hinnenkamp, Systems and Data Analyst. It will also contract the services of Paul Burgess, Ph.D and Robert St. Louis, Ph.D., of Arizona State University, to provide professional assistance in achieving the project objectives.

      The Project Officer for the Department is Curtis Gatlin, Program Analyst in the Office of Quality Control, Unemployment Insurance Service.

    2. Needs Assessment The first major undertaking of the grant staff will be to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment survey to determine the specific program areas in which States want and require TA. This effort will also be instrumental in determining the content of the TAG.

      This endeavor will include conducting an extensive mail survey of a variety of State UI administrative and QC staff, including UI directors, UI Benefit Chiefs, UI Research staff, and QC Supervisors and data analysts. In addition, grant staff will review and critique a sample of completed PI study reports selected by the NO. This review will be done to assess the degree to which acceptable research methods have been followed, and how well the studies adhered to the PI study guidelines established in UIPL 33-89 issued by the Department.

      The final stage of this needs assessment will be a planning seminar involving a number of SESA representatives, tentatively scheduled for the week of January 7, 1991, in Tempe, Arizona. This seminar will serve as an important vehicle for exploring and refining various issues regarding the content and scope of the TAG. In addition, grant staff will carry out discussions with various other National, Regional, and SESA staff who have expertise in the design and implementation of UI program improvement studies.

    3. Continuing Technical Assistance This on-going portion of the project will be undertaken via review and assessment of draft study proposals for PI studies submitted voluntarily by SESAs to the TA project staff. Grant staff will involve the services of Burgess and St. Louis in evaluating proposed studies and will provide direct feedback to States regarding their impressions andor recommendations. Such technical assistance will generally be provided by mail and telephone contact. However, if onsite assistance is requested and deemed feasible, grant staff will provide such services.

    4. Technical Assistance Guide (TAG) Based upon the findings of the multi-faceted assessments described above, grantee staff will create a TAG for publication and distribution to all States.

      While in draft form, the TAG will serve as the primary document to be discussed at a series of three nationwide workshops for SESA staff. These workshops will be organized and conducted in such a manner that they serve as both a training session and an input forum for changes to the TAG prior to publication. Beyond providing a comprehensive summary of the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for conducting valid program analysis, the TAG will address such areas as costbenefit analysis of study findings, and guidelines for overcoming barriers to implementing valid program improvement recommendations.

    5. Additional Guidance and Information. The Pennsylvania grant staff will offer additional information to interested SESAs regarding the process of obtaining TA under this grant project. As much as possible, the grant staff and individual State staff will have direct and open communications throughout the grant period in the hope of reaching and providing useful technical guidance to a number of the State agencies. Each agency will define how SESA contacts are to be made after the initial contact with the State Administrator.

  6. Action Required. All SESA Administrators are encouraged to:

    1. provide a copy of this UIPL to appropriate UI program directors, research staff and QC staff; and

    2. utilize any of the TA services planned via your Regional Office representative, or by direct response to communications from the Pennsylvania grant staff.

  7. Inquiries. Direct informational inquiries to the appropriate Regional Office.

  8. Attachment. Technical Assistance Project Operations Calendar.