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State Letter #05-32

Guidance to States/Wilson-Fish Agencies on Setting FY 2006 Annual Outcome Goals

Published: October 13, 2005
Audience:
Wilson-Fish
Types:
State Letter
Tags:
annual outcome goal plan, data

TO: STATE REFUGEE COORDINATORS

FROM: Nguyen Van Hanh, Ph.D.
Director
Office of Refugee Resettlement

SUBJECT: Guidance to States/Wilson-Fish Agencies on Setting FY 2006 Annual Outcome Goals

Purpose

The purpose of this letter is to transmit guidance to States/Wilson-Fish agencies on setting annual outcome goals for FY 2006 and reporting on annual outcomes for FY 2005.

Background

In 1993, Congress passed the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). Since FY 1995, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has been working in partnership with States/Wilson-Fish agencies to implement the requirements of the law into our refugee program. Our joint efforts have moved the program to a focus on results through the process of setting and reporting of annual outcome goals. These efforts have been recognized by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as consistent with the intent of GPRA. OMB has shared ORR's approach to implementation of GPRA with other Federal programs as a best practice. We should take pride in the work we've done to date and understand that continuous improvement in performance requires continuous effort.

We ask more of you every year, because refugees deserve the best that we can offer. Each successful outcome translates into a positive effect on a refugee's life. We acknowledge that FY 2005 presented challenges in achieving successful outcomes for refugees. We are confident that your providers will strive for continuous improvement over the previous year's performance. The work that you do matters a great deal. Thanks very much for the progress you have made.

This is the third year that ORR has developed an electronic annual outcome goal plan format. The form design and instructions are the same as in previous years, however, additional instructions are provided to assist in the completion of the form electronically. The electronic format is being sent to you separately via e-mail.

Timelines

The due date for submission of the FY 2006 annual outcome goal plan to ORR is November 15, 2005. All plans should be sent electronically via e-mail to ensure receipt of all FY 2006 annual outcome goal plans no later than November 15, 2005. States/Wilson-Fish agencies are encouraged to submit their plans to ORR as soon as they are finalized.

Your State analyst in the Division of Refugee Assistance (DRA) will contact you shortly to provide technical assistance in establishing reasonable outcome goals that are acceptable to both the State/Wilson-Fish agency and ORR.

A copy of the annual outcome goal plan is also included as Attachment A. The format includes information on the number of TANF, RCA and other refugees in the total caseload, and requires a breakdown of outcomes for RCA and TANF refugees on the measures of entered employments, cash assistance terminations, cash assistance reductions, 90-day employment retentions and entered employments with health benefits.

A discussion of data needed for the plan follows.

Caseload

A caseload is defined as the unduplicated number of active employable adults enrolled in employability services (ES) as defined under 45 CFR 400.154(a) (c) (d) and (e) that comprise the total ES caseload eligible for services during a Federal fiscal year.

Matching Grant Enrollees: States/Wilson-Fish Agencies that are providing English as a Second Language (ESL) to Matching Grant (MG) enrollees through their employment services should not count these MG participants in their ES caseload. Outcomes achieved for Matching Grant participants during the MG 4-month period should be reported by the MG agency separately and are not included in the State's/Wilson-Fish Agencies outcomes. States/Wilson-Fish Agencies may report participation in ESL by MG enrollees on page 2 of Schedule C of the QPR each quarter.

Unduplicated caseload data must be provided by category of assistance for FY 2005 and FY 2006.

Measures

We ask that you set goals for each performance measure defined below. These definitions are consistent with the definitions used in the quarterly performance report (QPR).

Entered employments (placements)

a. full-time (35 or more hours per week)
b. part-time (fewer than 35 hours per week)

Entered employment is defined as the entry of an active participant in employment services into unsubsidized employment for at least one day during any quarter of the Federal fiscal year (10/1 - 9/30).

Goals and actual performance on the annual outcome goal plan should be stated separately in terms of number and percent of full-time and part-time entered employments per fiscal year, as well as total unduplicated number of entered employments.

The methodology for calculation of the entered employment rate on the annual outcome goal plan is the unduplicated number of projected or actual entered employments divided by the caseload. The rates for part-time and full-time entered employments are a percent of the total unduplicated number of projected or actual entered employments, and not a percent of the total caseload. The full-time and part-time rates equal 100 percent.

Using the electronic format, enter the data in the shaded area only. The entered employment rate and the rate for part-time and full-time entered employments will be calculated automatically.

Cash assistance terminations due to earnings

A cash assistance termination (grant termination) is defined as the closing of a cash assistance case due to earned income in an amount that is predicted to exceed the State's payment standard for the case based on family size, thereby rendering the case ineligible for cash assistance.

The methodology for calculation of the cash assistance termination rate on the annual outcome goal plan is the unduplicated number of cash assistance terminations divided by the unduplicated number of individuals placed in employment.

As an alternative, those States/Wilson-Fish agencies that have accurate data regarding the number of active employment services participants who are receiving cash assistance at the time of placement may define goals and calculate actual rates on this measure by using the subset of cash assistance recipients placed in employment as the denominator instead of the total number of entered employments. Please provide this number on the goal plan, if available.

Using the electronic format, enter the data in the shaded area only. The cash assistance termination rate will be calculated automatically.

Cash assistance reductions due to earnings

A cash assistance reduction (grant reduction) is defined as a reduction in the amount of cash assistance that a case receives as a result of earned income from employment.

The methodology for calculation of the cash assistance reduction rate on the annual outcome goal plan is the unduplicated number of cash assistance reductions divided by the unduplicated number of individuals placed in employment, or if available, divided by the number of cash assistance recipients placed in employment.

Using the electronic format, enter the data in the shaded area only. The cash assistance reduction rate will be calculated automatically.

Average hourly wage at placement

Average hourly wage at placement (employment entry) is calculated as the sum of the hourly wages for the unduplicated number of full-time placements in employment during the fiscal year divided by the total unduplicated number of individuals placed in full-time employment.

Average hourly wage at employment entry is expressed in terms of a dollar amount for each fiscal year.

States/Wilson-Fish agencies or counties in which a significant number (50% or more) of the placements were part-time during FY 2005 should indicate this in a footnote. These States/Wilson-Fish agencies or counties should also set a separate FY 2006 goal on the average hourly wage for projected part-time placements. Using the electronic format, enter the average hourly wage at employment in the shaded area.

Employment retention

This is a measure of continued participation in the labor market, not retention of a specific job. Employed means working for wages on the 90th day from placement at any unsubsidized job. Where there have been multiple placements for the same individual within the same Federal fiscal year, the date of the first employment entry is the start date for calculating the 90-day follow-up. An individual who is on strike on the 90th day is considered employed. An individual who has been laid off and does not anticipate returning to the same employer within 30 days is considered unemployed, unless the individual has obtained other employment.

This is a reminder that since we are interested in retentions achieved during a fiscal year, the methodology for calculation of the retention rate for FY 2005 is the following:

The sum of retentions for Q1 through Q4 (both full-time and part-time) of FY 2005 divided by the sum of entered employments (both full-time and part-time) for Q1 through Q3 of FY 2005 and Q4 of FY 2004.

Using the electronic format, in order to complete the employment retentions measure, you must first complete the employment retentions worksheet which is the third page of the form. Upon completion of the worksheet the employment retentions total will be automatically calculated for FY 2005. For the FY 2006 retention goal, enter the data in the shaded area and calculate the employment retention rate.

Entered employments with health benefits available

This item reflects the availability of health benefits, (either at placement, or at any time within 6 months of placement) for those individuals who entered full-time employment. This is not a measure of how many individuals elect to enroll in health benefits, but rather how many jobs offer this option. Benefits should be considered available if self-only coverage is available to the employee, even if coverage is not extended to the employee's family members. Benefits are considered available without regard to whether the employee must contribute to the premium or whether the employee must wait for coverage.

The methodology for calculation of the rate is the unduplicated number of full-time entered employments (placements) with health benefits available divided by the unduplicated number of full-time entered employments (placements). Using the electronic format enter the data in the shaded area only. The entered employments with health benefits rate will be calculated automatically.

Establishing the Goal Plan

The Annual Outcome Goal Plan for FY 2006 should include the following:

Unduplicated data. States/Wilson-Fish agencies should use actual unduplicated performance data from FY 2005 as the basis for establishing an annual goal for each outcome measure for FY 2006.

FY 2006 outcome goals for each measure. Average wage at employment entry requires only a dollar amount. For the rest, each measure will be expressed in terms of both the number and percentage of participants (or cases for cash assistance terminations) in a service caseload projected to achieve the outcome.

When setting outcome goals for each measure, States/Wilson-Fish agencies should establish goals aimed at improving upon the previous year's actual performance. States/Wilson-Fish agencies that reach a high employment and self-sufficiency rate of 85% among employable refugees may establish goals to maintain that level of outcomes instead of aiming for continued improvement.

A column for reporting actual FY 2005 outcomes for each measure. States/Wilson Fish agencies (and counties) are required to submit an end-of-year report to ORR comparing projected annual outcome goals with actual annual outcomes achieved with respect to each of the six measures for FY 2005. This report should be a side-by-side comparison of projected vs. actual FY 2005 goals. Using the electronic format, enter the data in the shaded areas only. Do not attempt to calculate percentages for the entries.

Narrative. States/Wilson-Fish agencies may include a narrative to explain the actual outcomes in terms of local conditions that may have affected performance during the year, such as labor market conditions, or other factors that had an impact on the ability to achieve goals, such as an unanticipated reduction in refugee arrivals. Using the electronic format, enter narrative information on page three.

We encourage States/Wilson-Fish agencies with low payment standards and low refugee utilization of cash assistance to explain their outcomes more fully by including information on welfare avoidances to the maximum extent feasible. Usually these States have a high number of entered employments but very few cash assistance terminations and reductions because most refugees are placed in employment very soon after arrival and do not access cash assistance.

Funding Source. The total amount of ORR funds used by the States/Wilson-Fish agency or county for employment services upon which the projected outcome goals are based, and an identification of the type of ORR funds.

States/Wilson-Fish agencies may set their annual outcome goals based on ORR funding in the aggregate which is used for employment services (current year funding and carryover) including, any ORR discretionary funds that are used to provide employment services. This information should be entered in the two columns indicated on page two of the electronic format. Actual funds expended to achieve FY 2005 outcomes should be entered in the FY 2005 ACTUAL column by funding category and funds projected to be used to achieve FY 2006 goals should be entered in the FY 2006 PROPOSED column. The total ORR funds used for employment services will be calculated automatically.

Cost per Placement. ORR also reviews the performance goals in relation to the funds used to achieve these goals. We calculate a projected cost-per-job placement ratio, also called the unit cost, by dividing the total ORR funds a State/Wilson-Fish Agency has indicated it has used for employment services (actual) by the total number of entered employments (actual). We also calculate a projected unit cost per placement for FY 2006 based on information provided by each State/Wilson-Fish Agency on the annual goal plan. We believe the unit cost per placement is a useful indicator of the cost-effectiveness of employment outcomes and encourage States/Wilson-Agencies to use it.

Using the electronic format enter the funding source data in the shaded area only. The total ORR funds used for employment services and the cost per placement will be calculated automatically.

The analyst in the Division of Refugee Assistance (DRA) who is assigned to your State will be contacting you to provide technical assistance in establishing reasonable outcome goals that are mutually agreeable.

Please submit annual outcome goal plans to Pamela Green-Smith via e-mail at pgreensmith@acf.hhs.gov, no later than November 15, 2005. If you have any questions, you can reach Pam at (202) 401-4531.