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WIAPL 09-11 (National Emergency Grants (NEGs))
Workforce Investment Act Policy Letter No. 09-11
July 8, 2010
TO: WIA Local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), Fiscal Agents, Administrative Entities and One-Stop Operators
FROM: Lisa Patt-McDaniel, Director  Douglas Lumpkin, Director
SUBJECT: National Emergency Grants (NEGs)

I.Purpose

To provide a general overview of the purpose and requirements of National Emergency Grants and the process to apply through the Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), Rapid Response Unit.

II.Effective Date

Immediately

III.Background

A.NEGs

NEGs are discretionary grants, targeting eligible dislocated workers, intended to temporarily expand and complement resources and service capacity at the state and local levels by providing supplemental funding to ensure an effective response to specific, significant, and unanticipated worker dislocation events or natural disasters. NEG funds provide workforce development, employment services, and other adjustment assistance to dislocated workers and other eligible individuals as authorized by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), Title I, Section 173, 20 CFR part 671, and Section 203 of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program.

NEGs are available in response to significant events that create a sudden need for assistance that exceeds the on-going operations of the formula-funded dislocated worker program, including discretionary resources reserved at the state level. When significant dislocation events arise from the effects of economic globalization, business fluctuations, and unexpected events, an application for an NEG may be submitted to DOL through ODJFS. Some of the dislocation events considered by DOL are: single company layoff, multi company layoffs, and industry-wide layoffs.

B.General Overview of NEG Types

WIA final rules, 2004 Federal Register, Vol. 69, establishes several categories of NEGs available to states and/or local workforce investment boards, each addressing specific dislocation event conditions and guidelines unique to each type of grant.

DOL TEGL No. 14-08 and TEN No. 38-09, introduce new stimulus-funded NEGs that further enhance available resources to states and local WIBs that reflect current conditions that relate to statewide economic events in local communities, specific initiatives, and potential dislocated worker formula funding shortages.

It should be noted that new types of NEGs not discussed in this guidance may be announced by DOL in the future. As has occurred in the past, some new grants may be limited to state applicants only, whereas others may include solicitation to local WIBs. ODJFS will notify local WIBs as new initiatives and opportunities become available.

While numerous types of NEGs are available, requirements and conditions vary between them. In some instances, the differences are significant including variances to the eligible target group, limitations on the array of allowable services under the grant, and application conditions that are unique to the grant.

Historically, NEG awards received by ODJFS have fallen under the categories:

  • Regular grants - encompass plant closures, mass layoffs, and multiple layoffs in a single community.
  • Disaster grants - include all natural and manmade disaster events certified by FEMA as eligible for public assistance. Emergency funding may be requested for disaster projects when submitted within 15 days of FEMA public assistance declaration.
  • Trade-WIA Dual Enrollment Grants - provide funding to ensure that a full range of services are available to trade-impacted individuals eligible under the Trade Adjustment Assistance program provisions of the Trade Act. Once a worker has been determined eligible for trade assistance, NEG funds shall be used for wrap-around services not allowable under Trade, such as supportive services.

C.Scope of NEG Services

With the exception of disaster grants, the allowable array of services may include intensive, training, and supportive services, as authorized under the grant. NEGs may not be used to provide rapid response services - including transition centers, labor management committees, peer-to-peer support, worker orientation sessions, and outreach - or core services to impacted workers. It is expected that local funds (or statewide rapid response funds) are used to support these activities.

Disaster grants provide temporary employment and supportive services to eligible workers to assist with clean-up activities. A temporary job will constitute employment, and all wages earned on that job during a week in which unemployment benefits are claimed, will be considered deductible income. These wages must be reported during the weeks they are earned, and may result in a deduction in the weekly amount of unemployment benefits otherwise payable for that week, up to the full weekly benefit amount.

DOL may negotiate and fund NEG projects under other terms where it can be clearly demonstrated that such adjustments will achieve a greater positive benefit for the workers and/or the communities being assisted.

D.NEG Participant Eligibility

Participants eligible for NEG services differ by NEG type. The most common categories of eligible individuals include:

  • Dislocated workers as defined in WIA section 101(9)
  • For Disaster projects:
  • Individuals temporarily or permanently laid off as a consequence of disaster event(s) eligible for public assistance through a FEMA declaration
  • Individuals who are long-term unemployed as defined by the state
  • Certain civilian employees of military installations, Department of Defense contractors, members of the Armed Forces, and other specific populations may qualify for NEG services as described in Workforce Investment Act, Final Rules, 2004 Federal Register, Vol. 69

IV.Process to Determine Availability of Additional Funds

The State is responsible for submitting all NEG applications on behalf of one or more local WIBs. Therefore, local WIBs should contact ODJFS if funds are not available to serve impacted workers. At that time, ODJFS will assess all available resources and in coordination with the local WIB, determine how best to support the workers with statewide discretionary or rapid response funds, rather than an NEG. This is largely due to the federal grant requirements that include a state/local expenditure rate and/or cash disbursement rate that demonstrate a funding shortage.

If it is determined that an NEG is the best potential resource, local WIBs must be able to provide specific and detailed information to support the application request. The State will provide further instructions and technical assistance as needed in order to meet the application requirements.

Requests for an NEG or emergency funds to address a dislocation event should be directed to:

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Office of Workforce Development. E-mail the request to: RAPDRESP@JFS.OHIO.GOV with "NEG/Emergency Funds" in the subject line.

A.Preparation for the NEG Application

Once it has been determined that an NEG application is required, ODJFS will advise the local area how to proceed. NEG applications can be submitted at any time during the program year and must be developed by or in conjunction with the local WIB(s) and chief elected official(s) of the local area(s) in which the proposed project is to operate.

Local areas will need to provide detailed information to support the NEG application.

The NEG application may include:

1)A deailed description of the need for an NEG identifying the workforce area(s) seeking NEG funds and the type of NEG being requested as described in Section III. B. above.

2).A description of services provided to the target population currently or prior to an NEG request, including rapid response services (e.g., surveys collected, meetings with employers, worker information sessions, etc.) previously or currently being provided. If early intervention through rapid response has not been possible, the circumstances that prevented early intervention must be documented.

Note: When identifying layoff events to cover with NEG services, applicants may include future layoffs that have been announced as well as previous events up to 120 days preceding the application date.

3).A description or explanation of the assessment process for participants to be enrolled in the requested NEG including assessment(s) completed during rapid response service delivery and types of additional assessment techniques to be utilized to identify services needed by the targeted participants.

4).A description of outreach strategies for potential participants not currently enrolled in WIA programs. (e.g., rapid response, public service announcements, newspaper, etc.)

5).A detailed description of the services to be provided via the NEG.

6).If applicable to NEG type, a description of plans to co-enroll NEG participants into other programs to ensure a full array of wrap-around services.

7).A description of local partnership initiatives that may contribute to the success of the project. WIA mandates an integrated delivery of NEG services. Local areas submitting a request for an NEG should take advantage of the pre-layoff eligibility of dislocated workers to plan and design a program to support the employment and wage replacement strategies to return dislocated workers to employment (i.e., plan as soon as an individual layoff notice is received or 180 days prior to a planned closure).

8).Reasonableness of Proposed Costs - Demonstrate that the project has been designed and will operate in accordance with the federal requirements and the state and local policies that apply to formula-funded dislocated worker programs. If the policies are different, a full justification in terms of the target group and reemployment barriers must be included in the explanation of the difference between the proposed costs and the state average participant cost.

9).List of entities that will serve as project operator(s) and fiscal agent(s) for implementation of the NEG, including staff contact information.

10).Verification of event data into the Rapid Response Event Data System at http://www.ohiored.gov/. Any subsequent lay-off events added to an existing NEG via modification must also be documented in the OhioRED system.

11).Acknowledgement that the state's designated tracking system for WIA services will be used to identify eligible NEG participants and services provided.

B.Application Process

When a request is submitted to ODJFS, the Office of Workforce Development (OWD) will review the information with an emphasis on, but not limited to:

  • WIA dislocated worker formula fund expenditures
  • Rapid response fund expenditures
  • Statewide (discretionary) fund expenditures
  • Each local area's progress towards attaining WIA performance standards and expenditure rate.

ODJFS will review the submitted information and additional documents requested and use this information to complete and submit the NEG application.

C.Award Notification

If DOL issues a grant to the state, the award amount will likely be an incremental share of the requested amount. Successful expenditure of at least 70% of the initial award will allow the state to request additional funding up to the threshold approved by DOL. If the project operator does not expend the initial allocation, funds may be taken away and reallocated to the other project operators.

The amount awarded to the state will be distributed to participating workforce areas based on the budgets submitted. Grant specific cost line codes, guidance and operating instructions will be provided at that time.

D.Incremental Funding

Upon approval by DOL, each area will receive a commitment of funding for planning purposes as well as an allocation amount up to the threshold, which may be less than the commitment. Local areas must expend 70% or more of the current allocation before requesting additional funds up to their total commitment.

Upon expenditure of 70% of the current allocation, the area may submit to ODJFS documentation of total expenditures, an estimate of additional funding needs to the end of the grant period, and an explanation of how the additional funds will be spent. ODJFS will review the information in order to determine the increased allocation amount. As participating areas request additional funding, the commitments of funding for other workforce areas may need to be revised in order to maximize utilization of all approved NEG funds for the approved project.

V.NEG Implementation

The following activities must be implemented by all local areas in receipt of NEG allocations:

A.Participant Enrollment

NEGs are intended to provide time-limited funding assistance to a state or local area. Since workers will be eligible for services (upon receipt of layoff notice or company announcement) when an application is submitted, all projects are expected to enroll/register all participants within six months of a grant award. If additional participants need to be enrolled in the NEG beyond the six month limitation, the area must contact ODJFS in order to request approval to enroll participants beyond the enrollment deadline. This will require a modification of the NEG and approval by DOL.

B.Policy Review

Local areas are permitted to implement NEG services based on existing policies, or may institute policies specific to the NEG population to better meet the unique needs of the participants while also maximizing the usage of available NEG funds. However, when an NEG is operating across a region, the participating local WIA areas are required to coordinate their policy decisions and/or to establish regional policies for the highest possible level of consistency in service delivery in a manner that ensures the requirements of the NEG grant are met. The following criteria, at a minimum, should be taken into consideration during this review process:

  • Sequence of Services: Does the current local policy permit NEG participants to move from core to intensive to training services as quickly and flexibly as possible based on their unique skill sets and readiness for training?
  • Self Sufficiency: Is the local definition of self sufficiency appropriate to the income levels of the NEG participants? (Note: local areas are permitted to define self sufficiency for dislocated workers as a percentage of their layoff wage)
  • Individual Training Accounts (ITA): Are the length and maximum costs of training, allowable degrees and certifications, and other ITA provisions appropriate for the skill and education level of the NEG-eligible participants?
  • Supportive Services: Are the benefit amounts and types of supportive services sufficient to meet the NEG participants' needs while maximizing the expenditure of the NEG award before the end of the grant period?
  • NRPs: Is sufficient financial assistance available to NEG participants so they can successfully complete their training programs?

C.Participant Tracking

Project operator(s) will ensure that all eligible participants who receive NEG-funded services are properly entered and identified as NEG participants in the state-provided tracking system (client and reporting). All services funded with NEG dollars must also be identified as NEG services in the tracking system. Entry of NEG participants and services may require staff to sign into the tracking system using a Special Grant Office code rather than the usual local area program office code. Alternative tracking methods may also be used depending on the nature of the NEG. The procedures for tracking NEG participants and services will be communicated by ODJFS when the grant is awarded.

Participants enrolled solely in the NEG will not count in the local area's performance measures, but those co-enrolled in both NEG and local formula funded services will be included in local performance measures.

D.Fiscal Reporting

The designated fiscal agent(s) for the NEG will receive a list of fiscal codes with their relative definitions for reporting allowable costs to the NEG grant through the County Finance Information System (CFIS). Accurate and timely reporting is crucial as this information is used to help ODJFS administer the grant and to request additional funding increments from DOL. Proper reporting includes: obligations (resources on order) and accruals (good and services received but expenses not yet paid). In addition, fiscal agents must adhere to ODJFS fiscal rules as codified in Ohio Administrative Code Rules 5101:9-7-04 WIA Area Financing and Cash Management; 5101:9-7-04.1 WIA Area Quarterly Reconciliation; and 5101:9-7-04.2 WIA Area Annual and Grant Closeout.

Fiscal agents are cautioned that the use of NEG - expenditure code for "other," should be kept to a minimum. Fiscal agents should use this code only after consultation with the ODJFS Rapid Response Unit. In many cases, the cost being classified as "other" can be properly classified to a different allowable expenditure line.

E.Supplemental Reports

ODJFS is required to submit a quarterly report to DOL within 45 days from the end of each calendar quarter. Information related to participant counts and expenditures will be gathered from the data entered locally into the participant and fiscal tracking systems as described in sections C and D above. In addition, project operator(s) may be required to submit an NEG bi-weekly, monthly, and/or quarterly report to supplement the data. If supplemental reporting is required, the project operator(s) will receive a report form, instructions, and deadlines for submission from ODJFS. All supplemental reports must be completed and submitted by the specified deadline dates.

F.Project Operating Plan

Within 90 days of receipt of the NEG award, ODJFS must assemble a project operating plan describing the NEG implementation in detail to be submitted for DOL approval. If needed, local areas in receipt of NEG funds will assist ODJFS in preparing the plan.

G.Meetings and Training Sessions

Successful implementation of NEG services requires periodic meetings to coordinate services and share information. Also, training and technical assistance will be provided as needed. All local areas receiving NEG allocations are required to send appropriate staff to participate in meetings and trainings.

H.Modifications

Project operators will notify ODJFS when modifications to the grant may be necessary, and will assist in the modification process. Circumstances that require requesting a grant modification include:

  • To request an increase in the area's commitment of funding in order to continue providing services
  • To include additional layoff events occurring within the scope of the approved award. Such events must be entered in the Rapid Response Event Data System at http://www.ohiored.gov (Note: Serving additional layoff events may require a new NEG depending on the situation.)
  • To change the project performance period
  • To add, remove, or revise project operator information
  • To reflect variances that result in more than a 10% increase in cost per participant
  • To report changes to the organization's approved indirect cost rate
  • To alter the approved amount for supportive services, NRPs or administration of NRPs
  • To adjust project performance goals

VI.Compliance

Local areas, project operators, and subrecipients of NEG funds must adhere to all federal, state and county rules, laws and regulations and other limitations or provisions identified by ODJFS. Refer to OMB Circulars A-87 and A-122 for fiscal provisions.

VII.Technical Assistance

For additional information, you may send your questions to the Office of Workforce Development: WIAQNA@JFS.OHIO.GOV.

VIII.References

Workforce Investment Act (WIA), Section 173

Workforce Investment Act Final Rules, 20 CFR Part 652, Section § 671.130

Workforce Investment Act Final Rules, 2004 Federal Register, Vol. 69

Department of Labor Training and Employment Guidance Letter 10-02

Department of Labor Training and Employment Guidance Letter 16-03

TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT GUIDANCE LETTER NO. 16-03, Change 1

TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT GUIDANCE LETTER NO. 16-03, Change 2

TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT GUIDANCE LETTER NO. 16-03, Change 3

TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT GUIDANCE LETTER NO. 16-03, Change 4

TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT GUIDANCE LETTER NO. 16-03, Change 5

Department of Labor Training and Employment Guidance Letter 19-08

Rescissions

WIA Guidance Letter 3A-2001 and WIA Transmittal Letter 2