Fixing to Change: A Best Practices Assessment of One-Stop Job Centers Working With Welfare Recipients. Other Institutional Factors


Several other institutional factors may contribute to the success or failure of a One-Stop, including shared systems administration, common technologies, budgeting, and differing pay scales and collective bargaining agreements.

  • Shared Systems Administration: Those One-Stop models that are highly integrated have typically developed a method of overhead charges to support shared systems, including everything from space and janitorial services to computer and data system capital costs and maintenance. Policies on these charges are generally worked out by the executive management team representing the major partner agencies, and administered by the managing agency. In Kenosha, for example, the facility lease is financed by the County through a contract with Goodwill Industries, and the physical space and administrative systems are managed under contract by a for-profit management firm headed by the One-Stop manager. In Tarrant County, the County owns the property and has responsibility for managing the administrative systems, with the Resource Connection Executive Director employed by the County. It should be noted that these shared data systems do require considerable design and training prior to effective operation in order to ensure system-wide understanding of the codes, measures and terminology used.
  • Technology: The importance of technology in the success of a One-Stop should not be underestimated. Easy to use, customer-friendly touch screen systems for labor market information and labor exchange registration and use are vital to encouraging the kind of self-service anticipated in the inverted pyramid model of service delivery.(14) These technologies improve the capacity of multiple agencies to staff the resource room, facilitating cross-training and staff appreciation of the broad array of resources available through partner agencies. Where a common data system is introduced, careful attention to the level of computer literacy in different partner agencies is necessary for training staff on the new system and getting them to use it effectively.
  • Consolidated Budgets: Of the five One-Stop models examined, only Kenosha had anything that remotely resembled a consolidated budget statement for the activities of the One-Stop. Most sites seemed unable, or unwilling, to prepare such a budget, which we would attribute to the lack of full integration of programs and services. The Kenosha budget (illustrated below), suggests quite clearly that the bulk of the funding for the activities at the Kenosha County Job Center goes to support human services, rather than employment services. This pattern may vary from site to site, with higher numbers for employment services in those systems where unemployment insurance claims are also processed at the One-Stop site, such as in Marshalltown or Traverse City. Nonetheless, these funding proportions reflect the general tightness of the labor market and the resulting emphasis on welfare-to-work rather than economic dislocation -- a very different focus for One-Stop job centers than when they were first conceived. However, the lack of consolidated budgets illustrates the fact that in all but the most integrated systems, the partner agencies continue to operate on a collaborative basis rather than as an integrated system.

Kenosha County Job Center -- Consolidated Budget

Program Annual Budget
JOBS Program $3,728,820
Economic Support Administration $3,163,391
Child Support $1,369,936
Prevention Services $1,078,064
Food Stamp Employment and Training $1,050,000
Senior Aides $410,000
Wisconsin Job Service $367,000
PIC-JTPA $360,000
Fraud Prevention $332,762
United Migrant Opportunity Service $60,000
Total $11,919,973
  • Multiple Collective Bargaining Units: In some of the One-Stop sites assessed, it was not uncommon for employees to be represented under several different collective bargaining agreements, while others were employed without representation and/or under contract. Given the overlapping design of some responsibilities in a One-Stop system, such as the staffing of a resource room, multiple agreements and different levels of coverage have the potential for raising several issues about roles and responsibilities in the workplace. However, none of the managers indicated that this was an unmanageable challenge, but simply that it was another issue that required careful negotiation and management attention. In one of the more integrated sites, one public manager noted that he had a higher rate of grievances filed at the One-Stop than in other operations, but this may be more a reflection of the diversity of the agency's other operations than a reflection on the One-Stop work environment.
  • Wage Disparities: In the focus groups held with One-Stop staff, it became clear that for most sites there were considerable wage disparities between different agency personnel. In some of these sites, these differences did not appear to the staff to match differences in caseloads or the difficulty of cases. Staff acknowledged that in some sites, these disparities caused some tensions, while in other sites, staff from different agencies had little awareness of the disparities that did exist. In most cases where wage or workload disparities were an issue, staff reported that they had been reasonably successful in working through the tensions at the staff level, although in most cases there remained some level of discomfort with the realities of these compensation differentials. This did not appear to be an issue that had been raised or addressed to any degree at the management level.