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Human Resources Subcommittee Discusses Need to Better Coordinate Dozens of Anti-Poverty Programs

November 03, 2015

Today, the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), held a hearing on ways to better coordinate welfare programs to serve families in need. At this hearing, Chairman Boustany released a chart highlighting the complexity of the current system, with more than 80 federal anti-poverty programs competing for success.

WM Welfare Chart - AR amendment 110215 jpeg

Witnesses testifying at the hearing called on Congress to simplify this system so that individuals in need can achieve self-sufficiency and upward mobility.

Maura Corrigan, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, remarked, “In my experience, these myriad programs often become myopic—focusing on and only on their specific benefit that meets a specific need. Too often they lose sight of the bigger picture—helping low-income Americans move up—and the two elements most critical to that effort: employment and family.”

Geoff Davis, former subcommittee chairman, stated in his testimony, “In business, just like government, there is often a push to spend more money in hopes that it will solve the problem when outcomes are not meeting expectations….Thousands of poor are trapped in program processes that were well intended, but either inefficient or now outdated.”

Nick Lyon, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, remarked, “Instead of working with the individual and determining that person’s goals, we often are more concerned with programmatic requirements, leading to an overly complex system that is difficult for all of us, state government, policy makers, and our caseworkers to navigate. If it is difficult for us, imagine how it must seem to an individual or family seeking services.”

And Scott Sanders, the executive director of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, called for “better alignment of federal reporting metrics for social service programs and workforce programs” as well as “creating flexibility for states to tailor programs and services to specific individual needs.”

Learn more about today’s hearing online