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Against the wall, WIOA tech supporters pulled off a win

  • Joanna
  • November 7, 2016

Gotta love government planning.

It took nearly two years from the signing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act for the new law’s technical requirements to be completed. And that left the Labor Department with just about two months to fulfill one of the act’s key requirements — a system to track performance, keep watch over grant spending, and help users across the country make data-driven decisions about how to best serve job-seekers.

Now, here’s the crazy thing: The IT gurus at department’s Employment and Training Administration actually did it. They created a cloud-based platform that standardized a previously fragmented data reporting system.

What do WIOA stakeholders gain by knowing how this system came together? For one thing: It’s a work in progress. Nothing put together in 70 days — a record for the department when it comes to such complex systems — is going to be perfect. With that in mind, however, the system was impressive enough at launch to garner plaudits from GCN, which researches public-sector IT challenges and nominated the Labor Department for one of its annual digIT awards.

In that way, the Workforce Integrated Performance System is a lot like WIOA itself — the product of both a lot of thought, research and contemplation and quite a bit of deadline-driven, fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants innovation. And what has resulted is a system that is already working quite well but is nonetheless still a work in progress.

All of that is to say that the challenges imposed on states and local workforce development organizations by the sometimes clunky federal WIOA roll-out aren’t impossible to overcome. Far from it. Indeed, when it comes to helping more Americans find jobs, perfection should not be the enemy of progress.