Public Comment

Waiver Request Pursuant to 20 CFR 677.230 - To Allow Eligible Training Providers relief on the Collection and Reporting of Data on All Students

Pursuant to Sections 116 and 122 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and 20 CFR 677.230, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry seeks a waiver from the US Department of Labor to relieve the burden of Eligible Training Providers (ETPs) on the collection and reporting of data on all students served, including non-WIOA participants under the training program.

The waiver is intended to reduce the reporting burden on ETPs while continuing to require performance data for WIOA-funded participants.  Relief of the reporting burden will increase the number ETPs willing to provide services to Montana customers, expanding choices of training programs, and potentially lower the costs to individuals.  It will also allow the Montana Department of Labor and Industry to better meet the needs of employers, job seekers, and workers. 

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry will continue collecting data from ETPs on WIOA-funded students and will submit that data in its annual report to the US Department of Labor.  In addition, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry will track the number of new providers added to the Eligible Training Provider List and gauge the success of this waiver. 

The Montana Department of Labor & Industry is seeking public comment on this waiver request. This request for public comment is posted on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. Public comment will be accepted until 5 PM MST on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. This request is also posted on the SWIB website http://swib.mt.gov/ under the Public Comment button. 

Public comment to this request must be submitted in writing to SWIB@mt.gov. Comments will be responded to in a single response document, posted no later than March 27, 2019, to the Department website and sent to persons who commented.  Comments will also be responded to by incorporating the substance of the comments into the amended waiver request, if the Department determines it is reasonably necessary.  Commenters will receive a copy of the waiver request by March 28, 2019.

Any questions regarding Montana's WIOA program or the public comment process should be directed to SWIB@mt.gov.

The proposed waiver request reads as follows:
Montana Department of Labor & Industry (MDLI) requests a waiver of the statutory and regulatory requirements for collection and reporting performance-related data on all students participating in training programs listed on the State’s Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) as outlined in WIOA sections 116 and 122.  MDLI recognizes value in both attentive monitoring of performance data and relief from the burden on Eligible Training Providers (ETPs) to collect, enter, and report data on all students. The US Departments of Labor (DOL) and Education acknowledged this burden in their response to comments related to 20 CFR 677.230 in the preamble of the WIOA final rule, stating: “The Departments are cognizant of the reporting burden the ETP performance report places on the ETPs and do not want to place additional burden on these entities.” To date, there is no change in the regulatory text.  MDLI is concerned that requiring ETPs to report performance related data on all students deters ETPs from participating as a Montana ETP.

Due to its comparatively low and geographically dispersed population and rural character, Montana lacks a large quantity of training providers and WIOA participants can have limited options for trainings within reasonable distances of their residence. This fact combined with the reticence of ETPs to assume the additional burden of the reporting requirements hinders the ability of the state to meet the workforce needs of improved job and career outcomes by limiting training accessibility and affordability.  

Many of the students participating in training programs listed on Montana’s ETPL are non-WIOA participants. For example, a majority of students enrolled in Montana’s University System and private and tribal colleges are non-WIOA students. Those providers do not collect the full spectrum of data requested on the ETPL PIRL.  When offered assistance to develop methods of capturing data by partnering with MDLI’s Job Service Offices, the ETPs have declined.

Actions the state has undertaken to remove state or local statutory or regulatory barriers: Montana faces no state or local statutory or regulatory barriers to implementation of the requested waiver. Montana’s regulations and policy statements are in compliance with current federal law. 

State strategic goals of waiver:
Ease undue reporting burden on ETPs—Reporting performance data on all students engaged in a program of study takes a significant amount of time and resources. A reduction in ETPs’ reporting requirements to WIOA participants only saves time and resources, allowing ETPs to focus on education, training, employment, and earning outcomes. 

Ensure protections of non-WIOA participants PII—A reduction in ETPs reporting requirements to WIOA participants only reduces the risk of compromising students’ PII.

Projected programmatic outcomes resulting from implementation of the waiver:
A reduction in the reporting burden on ETPs allows their time and resources to be dedicated to successful outcomes and continuous improvement for WIOA-funded participants and non-WIOA students.  The waiver also offers the following opportunities:  an expansion of customer choice and the potential to lower costs through accessible, varied training options for individuals using Individual Training Accounts (ITAs); an increase in the use of ETPLs by students who pursue training through ITAs; stronger partnerships between ETPs and the public workforce system; and cultivation of the relationship between Montana’s Office of Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE) and MDLI.

The majority of training programs utilized by WIOA participants are through the Montana University System (MUS), with whom MDLI works to evaluate workforce outcome for colleges, fields of study, and degree program types (see College Report appendix.) These evaluations are used to provide valuable input into occupational demand and wage and salary outcomes for participants receiving WIOA-funded training by ETPs. MDLI continues to evaluate training providers in order for training participants and MDLI staff to take into account the efficacy of training programs.

Alignment with Department policy priorities: 
Describe how the waiver will align with the Department’s policy priorities, such as: (A) supporting employer engagement; (B) connecting education and training strategies; (C) supporting work-based learning; and (D) improving job and career results.
This waiver aligns with DOL’s policy priorities in the following way—A reduction in the reporting burden on ETPs, linking education and training by increasing time and resources dedicated to successful outcomes of supporting employer engagement, connecting education and training strategies, and improving job and career results for WIOA-funded and non-WIOA participants. 

Individuals, groups, or populations affected by the waiver:
This waiver is intended to reduce the reporting burden on ETPs while continuing to require performance data for WIOA-funded participants. ETPs will be more willing to provide services to Montana customers, expanding choices of training programs, and potentially lower the costs to individuals. It will also allow MDLI to meet the needs of employers, job seekers, and workers; foster collaboration between education and labor; and work toward the goal of reporting outcomes, with respect to their employment and earnings, for all students in an ETP program of study. MDLI’s current practice of gathering and evaluating OCHE data ensures customers’ access to information relevant to the selection of quality training programs.

State plans for monitoring waiver implementation, including collection of waiver outcome information:
MDLI will collect data from ETPs on WIOA-funded students and will submit that data in its annual report to DOL. MDLI will track the number of providers requesting to be added to the ETPL and whether this waiver was instrumental in the provider choosing to become an ETP due to Montana’s reduced reporting requirements.  MDLI will report any findings to DOL.

Assurance of state posting of the request for public comment and notification to affected local workforce development boards. 
Appendix:
College Report: http://lmi.mt.gov/Publications/PublicationsContainer/meeting-state-worker-demand