Employment and Training Administration
Washington, D. C. 20210






September 30, 1994




September 30, 1995











Unemployment Insurance Service




Draft Partnership Principles and Illustrative Federal-State Roles for State Employment Security Agency (SESA)-Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance Operations

  1. Purpose. To solicit comments on proposed partnership principles and roles papers developed by a joint Department of Labor-SESA Performance Enhancement Work group.

  2. References. None.

  3. Background. For over a year, the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Service, with the assistance of a committee appointed by the Interstate Conference of State Employment Security Agencies (ICES A), has been addressing the question of improved UI operational performance, and how its conduct of the Secretary of Labor's legally-mandated oversight of the UI system is related to performance of the UI system. This committee began working in October, 1993. It comprises senior UI national office staff, three senior ETA regional officials, and State officials from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Oregon, and ICESA representatives.

    The UIS had been planning a review of the UI oversight or performance enhancement system for some time; two recent events gave it impetus and shaped the agenda. First, the new ETA administration emphasized the need for the Department to be customer-oriented and thus appreciate fully what its customers expect of it in its various roles. In the UI context, that applies at two levels: the relationship between the Department and the States, and the joint relationship of DOL and the SESAs to the UI system's ultimate customers, the claimants and employers. Second, Vice President Gore's National Performance Review (NPR) completed a searching inquiry into various Departmental operations. The NPR recommended a thorough review of the UI oversight system, with a particular emphasis on how the Benefits Quality Control program might be refocused to make it a more effective vehicle for improving UI benefit payment operations.

    Consequently, the work group has three goals related to the general question of enhancing the performance of the UI system, i.e., to providing better services to UI claimants and employers. These are (1) to develop the broad framework for SESA-DOL working relationships and the roles for the partners; (2) to develop an outline of a system through which the Unemployment Insurance system can enhance performance; and (3) to apply the framework and performance enhancement principles to a reconsideration of the nature and focus of the Benefits QC program.

    To date, the work group has met eight times. It has completed work on the agenda related to its first broad goal and is now engaged in the much more detailed discussions concerning a system for enhancing performance. It has circulated its guiding framework paper, "Toward A New System for Enhancing Unemployment Insurance Performance," for comment to both States and UI stake holders. Its broad overview of the proposed system for enhancing performance was presented at the Gateways ES-UI Conference in St. Louis in June 1994. As a prelude to that meeting, work group member Nils Nordberg of Massachusetts asked all SESAs to assist the work group's efforts by identifying key performance measures, to which nationally standard criteria should be attached. As background, he attached copies of the Performance Enhancement group's work paper and draft system for enhancing UI performance.

    At its next meeting, in September 1994, the committee will continue to refine aspects of the system for enhancing UI performance presented in St. Louis. In preparation for the committee's review of the Benefits QC (BQC) program, a team of Federal and State staff is conducting a policy review of BQC, which will include a survey of all States' experience with BQC.

  4. Partnership Principles and State-Federal Roles Papers. In addition to the outline of its proposed plan, the work group has developed two products on which it desires comment. These are (1) the "Partnership Principles," a statement of the principles which should characterize the Department of Labor's and States' joint conduct of UI operations; and (2) five "roles papers" which attempt to illustrate how the Partnership Principles would be applied in various operational areas. The outline of the proposed performance enhancement plan, on which work continues, is attached for your information.

  5. Action Required. SESA administrators are requested to (a) share these proposed principles with appropriate staff; and (b) offer comments on them. Comments are requested by November 4, 1994, so that the committee may have the advantage of them in its continuing deliberations.

  6. Inquiries and Comments. Direct questions and comments to Janet Sten, Office of Quality Control, Frances Perkins Building Room S-4015; phone (202) 219-5220, fax (202) 2198506.

  7. Attachment. Proposed Partnership Principles; State Federal Roles papers; Unemployment Insurance Performance Enhancement System.