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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Employment and Training Administration
Washington, D. C. 20210

CLASSIFICATION

UI

CORRESPONDENCE SYMBOL

TEUMC

ISSUE DATE

June 28, 1994

RESCISSIONS

None

EXPIRATION DATE

March 31, 1996

DIRECTIVE

:

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM LETTER NO. 33-94

 

TO

:

ALL STATE EMPLOYMENT SECURITY AGENCIES

 

FROM

:

MARY ANN WYRSCH
Director
Unemployment Insurance Service

 

SUBJECT

:

Unemployment Insurance (UI) Information Technology Support Center

  1. Purpose (a) To advise State Employment Security Agencies (SESAs) of Department of Labor (DOL) plans to develop an Information Technology Support Center (ITSC) to support SESAs through the introduction of technology change and the use of information technology to enhance operations of the UI system, and (b) to request that interested SESAs submit proposals to develop and implement an ITSC to the National Office (NO).

  2. References.

    1. Public Law (P.L.) 103-152, Section 4, "Worker Profiling."

    2. Sections 303(a)(10) and 303(j) of the Social Security Act (SSA).

    3. Unemployment Insurance Program Letter No. 45-93, Profiling Unemployment Insurance (UI) Claimants.

    4. Unemployment Insurance Program Letter No. 2-94, Unemployment Insurance (UI) Information Technology Center (ITC).

    5. Department of Labor (DOL) Consultation Paper, The Workforce Security Act of 1994, January 19, 1994.

    6. Field Memorandum (FM) No. 35-94, Implementation of a System of Profiling Unemployment Insurance (UI) Claimants and Providing Them with Reemployment Services.

  3. Background. Information technology advances offer many opportunities to operate all aspects of UI and UI-related programs more effectively and efficiently. Many SESAs have applied current technology to increase productivity and improve customer services. DOL believes that a support center for exploring and taking advantage of the latest technology in hardware and software for all States is a means by which the Federal partner may assist in leveraging available automation and information technology resources. In addition, the UI aspects of selected DOL initiatives, such as worker profiling and reemployment services systems and one-stop career centers, can best be supported through an ITSC. Funds for the development and operation of an ITSC are available from FY 1994 National Activities accounts. Resources for FY 1995 are contained in DOL's FY 1995 budget request.

  4. Project Concept. DOL's Employment and Training Administration (ETA) plans to enter into a cooperative agreement with a State that will be selected to establish and operate an ITSC. Organization, administration and management of the ITSC could take a number of forms. The ITSC could be an organization of a SESA, a non-profit organization formed by a State, a contractor-operated facility, a facility operated by a university or consortium of SESAs, or some combination of the above. A State will be selected as the prime contractor for the agreement regardless of the organization of the ITSC.

    Regardless of the ITSC's organizational structure, a Steering Committee, or comparable organization, comprised of Federal and State staff will perform strategic planning and establish, implement, and monitor ITSC policies and procedures. Other responsibilities would include recommending projects which the ITSC will undertake, reviewing projects at key points throughout the development life cycle, providing feedback on systems design and implementation planning, and evaluating ITSC products for technical merit, exportability and usefulness.

    The ITSC must be able to respond quickly to changing situations and have rapid response capabilities. The ITSC must be able to attract top-quality staff, either as permanent employees, temporary employees, independent contractors and/or consultants. A flexible staffing pattern is an important feature of the ITSC so that necessary adjustments can be made quickly and routinely. The ITSC Steering Committee will be charged with reviewing and making recommendations to DOL about the ITSC work plan, which will be provided to DOL for appropriate action. An annual report on ITSC operations will be provided to DOL by the ITSC Steering Committee.

    The ITSC must have the ability to participate in the deliberations of the Steering Committee and to respond to the priorities which are established through consultations with DOL. Methods may include use of conferencing software, video conferences, on-site meetings and/or a combination of the above.

    Initially, the ITSC's focus will be on continuing to support the development and implementation of worker profiling and reemployment services systems. On November 24, 1993, the President signed into law the Unemployment Compensation Amendments of 1993 which added Section (303)(j) to the Social Security Act. This new Section requires States to establish and utilize a worker profiling and reemployment services system. A prototype system has been developed under a current DOL Contract Task Order. The ITSC will be responsible for subsequent activities. Concurrently, the ITSC will emphasize initial development of other applications for final development by SESAs and technology exchange among SESAs and other interested parties. The ITSC will focus on innovative solutions and efficient use of the latest technology arising from lessons learned through SESAs' experiences with past UI automation grants, other SESA automation efforts, and other State and Federal agencies and/or private industry experiences. In addition, the ITSC will be involved in supporting the UI aspects of the information systems envisioned for DOL' s one-stop career center initiative, labor market information system (LMI) linkages to UI and other initiatives.

  5. ITSC Activities and Functions. The ITSC will implement some combination of the following activities and functions, based upon States' and DOL' s requirements and priorities. The specific activities and functions will be established by the ITSC Steering Committee. For the purpose of submitting written proposals, the activities and functions have been divided into two groups which follow. A detailed description will be needed for all items in Group One. A general description will be needed for all items in Group Two.

    1. Group One.

      (1) Establish, in coordination with DOL, the ITSC operational procedures and Steering Committee charter and procedures.

      (2) Perform feasibility studies, systems analysis, design, and development for the SESAs. Development task may include assisting with programming as determined appropriate by the ITSC Steering Committee. Supporting DOL initiatives such as the national worker profiling and reemployment services system will be an ongoing and critical task of the ITSC. When developing new applications, an individual State or group of States may be the initial customer, but any systems will be developed using structured/modular components to attain maximum portability to other States. The ITSC must have the capability to prepare written specifications for systems, and the ability to develop, appropriately test, and document prototypes.

      (3) Establish and support a Central UI Electronic Bulletin Board System (UI-EBBS) for technology exchange and information sharing with all States regarding lessons learned, "best practices" and automation projects sponsored by SESAs along with appropriate points of contact. One function of the UI-EBBS may be an inventory of SESAs' automation status, hardware and software which can be shared with other SESAs, Regional Offices (ROs) and DOL. Another function might be the development of an electronic library of Request for Proposals (RFPs). The task could require evaluating RFPs, selecting aspects of RFPs which would be helpful to other SESAs, and storing RFPs by specific topics for use by other SESAs. Collecting and sharing this information on a continuing basis will be an important feature.

      (4) Assist SESAs in applying and using new technologies, e.g., electronic data interchange (EDI), geographic information systems (GIS). Supporting this function could also involve sponsoring or participating in meetings or conferences, developing an automated system to disseminate information, and producing appropriate publications which would be available electronically.

      (5) Support SESAs in testing and evaluating software. Evaluation of specific software may be proposed by the Steering Committee as the need arises. SESAs often face problems in testing new software applications in part due to the costs involved and the need to ensure that UI operations are not interrupted due to an unanticipated problem. The ITSC would provide a safe environment in which to test the application of software for specific aspects of the UI program.

    2. Group Two.

      (1) Provide help to SESAs in the production of automation and/or information technology RFPs and Invitation for Bids (IFBs). Assistance may include, but is not limited to, developing an automated program for on-line assistance, conducting workshops and training sessions, identifying technical alternatives and providing information on bench marking tests.

      (2) Sponsor prototype projects and demonstrations designed to maximize the use of automation and information technology in UI operations. These may include projects of national significance involving data exchanges between States or common reporting/filing systems.

      (3) Maintain a Hotline support staff capable of providing technical guidance for implementing new technologies and utilizing ITSC developed products.

      (4) Provide clearinghouse appraisal for ADP systems and software. The ITSC may evaluate software applications (both UI systems developed by States and commercial packages) for use in UI operations. Reporting on the assessments of others would also be included in this function.

      (5) Provide technical training to SESAs either at an ITSC sponsored location or by sending trainers to seminars or conferences. The ITSC may provide training sessions, seminars and/or workshops as needed on various topics including current and emerging technologies. The ITSC may also host sessions during which systems would be demonstrated.

      (6) Assist SESAs with computer security issues, including risk analysis and disaster recovery plans and operations. Computer security continues to be a major focus throughout the UI program and will become increasingly important as DOL's new initiatives are implemented.

      (7) Help SESAs develop and/or adapt open systems technology. As it becomes increasingly advisable to move towards open systems technology, SESAs need support and information about open systems and how existing SESA systems can transition to open systems technology.

      (8) Identify system and technology needs for national databases and other systems. Coordination of these systems is becoming increasingly important as SESAs are required to maintain a number of varying systems to meet various program needs.

  6. State Responsibilities. The State selected to establish and operate the ITSC will carry out the following tasks in accordance with the terms and conditions of the cooperative agreement:

    1. The State will administer and oversee the ITSC as agreed upon with DOL and in accordance with the State's proposal.

    2. The State will designate a project officer to provide administrative support and to serve as the State's representative with DOL.

    3. The State will report to DOL as defined in the cooperative agreement between DOL and the State.

  7. DOL Responsibilities.

    1. DOL will designate a Federal Representative and approve the Steering Committee organization and members, based upon SESA recommendations.

    2. In coordination with the State's project officer and the Steering Committee, DOL will monitor and inspect State and ITSC-contractor (if any) performance and products on an on-going basis to ensure compliance with the scope of work and ascertain the level of performance.

    3. DOL will review and approve the ITSC's project staff and work plans as specified in the cooperative agreement and any amendments thereto, and in conjunction with the recommendations of the ITSC Steering Committee.

    4. DOL will procure services for an independent evaluation of the effectiveness of the ITSC after the third year of operation.

  8. Selection of State. Interested States should submit proposals through their RO for the design, development, establishment and management of an ITSC. State selection will be competitive, based on criteria outlined below. Proposals received timely by the NO will be evaluated by a panel. The panel will review each State's proposal to determine if the proposal meets the criteria and will select the State with the best overall proposal.

  9. Proposal Evaluation Criteria. Proposals should be prepared in accordance with the guidelines contained in Attachment A, ITSC Proposal Outline. The proposals will be scored using the criteria below. A detailed narrative of each criteria is provided in Attachment A. Proposals should address all aspects of the detailed narrative to ensure receipt of the highest possible score.

    1. Proposed organizational structure of the ITSC, including administration and management.

    2. Recommended Steering Committee structure, including organization, membership, roles and responsibilities.

    3. Qualifications of the proposed key staff.

    4. Ability to fulfill the activities and functions of the ITSC as described in Section 5 above.

    5. Proposed five-year strategy and first-year work plan, including projects to support implementation of worker profiling and reemployment services systems, and other DOL/SESA initiatives.

  10. Proposal Due Dates. States must submit proposals to ROB by August 15, 1994. ROB must transmit recommended proposals to the NO by August 22, 1994.

  11. Request for Clarification. Any request for clarification regarding the meaning or interpretation of this UIPL must be submitted in writing by July 5, 1994 to allow sufficient time for a reply to reach the bidders before submission of their proposals. Requests for clarification should be faxed to Diane Wood at (202) 219-8506 with copies to the appropriate RO. Oral explanations or instructions given before entering into a cooperative agreement with a State shall not be binding. All requests for clarification will be shared, in the form of written questions and answers, with ROs by July 15, 1994, for immediate transmission to all States.

  12. Project Funding. The ITSC will be initially approved for a 12-month period, with four option years. At the end of the pilot phase, and each subsequent year, an evaluation will be conducted by DOL to determine whether to continue ITSC operations. The independent evaluation of the effectiveness of the ITSC after the third year of operation will also be used to determine whether to continue ITSC operations. This evaluation is referenced in Section 7 d above which addresses DOL Responsibilities.

  13. Action Required. Transmit the original and three unbound copies of each proposal to the appropriate RO by the due dates established above. SESAs are also requested, but not required, to submit a copy of their proposal on a floppy disk, using WordPerfect 5.1/6.0 format.

  14. Inquiries. Direct inquiries to the appropriate RO.

  15. Attachment. ITSC PROPOSAL OUTLINE