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Designation of a State as a Single Workforce Investment Area

September 2, 1999

Mr. Clark M. Bolser
Executive Director
Colorado Workforce Coordinating Council
1580 Logan Street
Suite 410
Denver, Colorado 80203

Dear Mr. Bolser:

This is in response to your August 20, 1999 letter to Mr. Eric Johnson regarding the U.S. Department of Labor's interpretation of section 116 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) regarding the designation of a State as a single workforce investment area. The Department of Labor's interpretation is that WIA section 116 does not permit the designation of a State as a single workforce investment area unless the State was a single service delivery area under the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) as of July 1, 1998.

WIA requires Governors to designate local workforce investment areas in their respective States. Specifically, WIA section 116 provides, "[e]xcept as provided in subsection (b),...the Governor of the State shall designate local workforce investment areas within the State". The plain meaning of this phrase is that the Governor must designate areas that are subdivisions of a State unless the subsection (b) exception applies. Subsection (b) states, "The Governor of any State that was a single State service delivery area under the Job Training Partnership Act as of July 1, 1998, may designate the State as a single local area for the purposes of [WIA title I]." In other words, this is a "grandfather" provision which allows States that were single service delivery area States under JTPA to remain as one under WIA.

There are several terms used within the operative phrase of section 116 quoted above that support this conclusion. First, the term "local" connotes areas that are distinct from and smaller than the State. Second, the use of the plural term "areas" indicates that more than one area in intended. Third, the phrase "within the State" indicates that the areas are inside the State rather than the State as a whole.

This interpretation is also reinforced by a review of JTPA. Section 101(a)(1)(A) of JTPA provides for the proposed designation of service delivery areas for the State, each of which "is comprised of the State or one or more units of general local government". Thus, JTPA explicitly provided that the designation of the State as a single service delivery area was an allowable alternative. The fact that such language was not included in WIA, which repeals and replaces JTPA, indicates that Congress did not intend for such a designation to be an option for the Governor under the Act, unless the exception contained in WIA section 116(b) applies.

If you have any questions about this interpretation, please do not hesitate to contact me at (303) 844-1650. My staff and I look forward to working with you as Colorado continues its transition to WIA.

Sincerely,

Thomas Dowd
Regional Administrator