Washington, D.C.– The Bipartisan Policy Center obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act that reveal the Department of Labor sharply cut funding for evaluating whether its programs are operating effectively.
The documents show the Labor Department quietly slashed the amount of funding it transfers to its chief evaluation officer for this fiscal year’s program evaluation to $2 million. That compares with $13 million and $27 million for use in prior fiscal years 2018 and 2017, respectively.
“This action by the Labor Department to reduce spending on vital program evaluations is deeply disturbing. Evaluation is a form of research that helps policymakers and the American public determine how to most effectively advance employment opportunities and job training in the country,” Nick Hart, director of BPC’s Evidence Project, said.
The U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking in its 2017 final report highlighted the Labor Department’s use of evaluation and unique funding approach through its chief evaluation officer as a model for other federal agencies to adopt.
“Once touted as a model for other agencies to follow, the Labor Department’s recent action to reduce evaluation funding to a bare minimum is very disappointing and we hope the administration will prioritize evaluation at the department moving forward,” Hart said.
Congress provides the Labor Department authority in annual appropriations to transfer more than $80 million across the department to evaluate its programs. While the agency has authorized less than that in recent years, the $2 million for fiscal year 2019 is historically low and quite inadequate for evaluating the department’s $10 billion annual budget.
“Congress gave this authority to the department to fund research about whether programs were working efficiently and appropriately to serve the intended population,” G. William Hoagland, senior vice president at BPC, said. “Taking away the ability of experts to analyze how the programs are faring shortchanges the department and the American taxpayer.”