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IWD Expected to Grow, Serve Iowans Better Under State Realignment Plan

Iowa Workforce Development will play a key role this year in major plans to streamline Iowa’s government and improve the way services are delivered across the state.

Gov. Kim Reynolds, citing a 40-year gap between comprehensive reviews of Iowa’s overall government organization, on January 10 announced a plan to reorganize and consolidate executive branch cabinet offices from 37 down to 16. If legislators approve, the statewide realignment will see agencies moved or combined based on the subject matter they deal with. The goal is to make government work more efficiently and make it easier for citizens to access what they need.

“I have a great team of directors… but that talent can’t meet its full potential when it’s hampered by a fractured organizational structure that’s run on autopilot for decades,” Reynolds said in her Condition of the State Address. “We can do better for Iowans.”

HSB126, a 1,569-page bill outlining all of the requested changes, was introduced in the Iowa Legislature on February 1.

As part of the realignment, IWD will assume management of Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Adult Education and Literacy, and the HiSET high school equivalency program from the Iowa Department of Education. At the same time, the Divisions of Labor and Worker’s Compensation will transfer to Iowa Inspections and Appeals, creating a unified state regulatory agency.

Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development, praised the decision, which she said will make it much easier for all major workforce programs to coordinate through IowaWORKS job centers.

“This is a great day for IWD, and I’m incredibly excited to be a part of it,” Townsend said in an online meeting with IWD employees following the announcement. “By having these programs work more closely together, we’ll be able to make all of Iowa’s workforce services easer for customers to access. We’re going to serve Iowans better than ever before, because we’ll be able to be more efficient about making certain everyone gets whatever assistance they need to help them find a rewarding career.”

The realignment proposal comes after many months of studying Iowa’s government organization. Among other things, an outside consultant's review identified more than 130 Iowa workforce programs spread throughout 11 different state agencies.

Consolidating such programs would maximize the value of IWD’s workforce expertise, reviewers argued. As a result, state leaders began transferring some programs to IWD last year, including administration of several workforce training and internship programs previously administered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority. The Department of Education’s Business Sector Partnerships and Iowa Intermediary Network programs also transitioned to IWD this past fall.

Townsend cautions that details of what the future agency will look like are still evolving. Meetings between transitioning agencies are just beginning, with a goal (assuming legislative approval) of having everything finalized by July 1.

Click here to read the proposed realignment legislation.