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Iowa Workforce Development
Organizational Profile

Organizational Environment

Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) strives to improve the income, productivity and safety of all Iowans. In conjunction with state and local economic development efforts, IWD also assists businesses to fulfill their workforce needs. The majority of IWD services are mandated by state and federal laws and regulations. 

Major products and services of IWD are:

  • Workforce Center Services (Services to promote a successful labor exchange system within which businesses identify and hire productive employees, and workers obtain jobs and achieve career growth.)

  • Compliance Assistance and Enforcement (Various activities to enhance the economic security, safety and health of Iowans)

  • Unemployment Insurance (Benefits for persons who have lost their job through no fault of their own)

  • Workforce Information and Analysis (Data for business, schools, individuals, economic developers, and government to allow them to make informed choices about careers, expansions, wage levels, etc.)

  • Adjudication, Compliance, and Education (Adjudication of income support issues for workers who have been injured on the job and unemployment insurance appeals)

  • Support Services (Internal services, such as human resources, financial and budget support, public relations, etc. that support the department as a whole)

We provide services through a statewide delivery system developed in conjunction with our workforce development partners. Administrative staff are centralized in two offices in Des Moines located at 1000 East Grand Avenue and 150 Des Moines Street.

IWD maintains a network of local centers within 15 regions of Iowa. Each region has a full-service workforce development center with a network of itinerant and satellite offices. Many centers are shared by multiple workforce partners, including non-profit organizations, the Department of Human Services, Vocational Rehabilitation, and community colleges. 

Through a comprehensive web site, we also provide customer access to major services, such as posting résumés and unemployment insurance claims, basic service information and labor market information, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

IWD is a department within the executive branch of Iowa State Government. It was established in 1996 by Iowa Code Chapter 84A. At that time the Department of Employment Services and portions of the Departments of Economic Development and Human Rights were merged into a new department with the purpose of administering the laws of Iowa relating to unemployment compensation insurance, job placement and training, employment safety, labor standards, workers' compensation and others. 

The department has 6 Divisions: Administrative Services, Labor Services, Unemployment Insurance, Workers' Compensation, Labor Market and Workforce Information Division, and Workforce Development Center Administration. IWD is a proactive, customer-driven organization. IWD colleagues are committed to providing quality services to all Iowans. Our culture emphasizes decisions being made at the local level rather than the state level. The Director stresses open and honest communications at all levels.

Vision: Iowa Workforce Development envisions a future where Iowa has safe workplaces, a productive and economically secure workforce, and where Iowans are prepared for an ever-changing future.

Mission: Iowa Workforce Development contributes to the economic security of Iowa’s workers, businesses and communities through a comprehensive statewide system of employment services, education and regulation of health, safety and employment laws.

Values: IWD has the following guiding principles: 

  • Integrity

  • Results/outcome orientation

  • Collaboration and partnership

  • Data-based decisions

  • Long-term thinking

  • Connect diverse resources

  • Model the characteristics of a high performance workplace

A joint labor-management health and safety committee identify health and safety issues and concerns and provide recommendations to senior management for any necessary corrective actions.

Most staff have a personal computer with Internet and e-mail capabilities. Data is stored in both a mainframe and a network of regional client servers. Through local area networks and wide area networks, all local offices utilize one common data collection system, the Integrated Customer System (ICS), as well as share common standards for hardware and software. ICS is also available to workforce development partners. The ICS system was created and continues to be improved by IWD's internal data processing unit using enterprise standards established by the Information Technology Department. The department also maintains a wide range of resources online, such as forms, contacts, frequently asked questions, and manuals.

We share numerous databases with other state and federal departments, including the Iowa Department of Human Services and the U.S. Department of Labor. 

The Workers' Compensation Division utilizes electronic data interchange (EDI) protocols for injury and claims processing reports, maintaining a "paperless" database to meet customer needs and make the system more efficient. 

The Unemployment Insurance Division is beginning the process of redesigning the current tax collection system into a paperless, electronic system. The Workforce Development Center Administration Division is transitioning from two electronic labor exchange systems to one Internet-based, skills-based system.

Our Web site offers customers the option to file for unemployment insurance and register for employment services online alleviating the need to visit a local office or call our unemployment insurance service center.

Divisions have unique equipment needs. The Workers' Compensation and Labor Divisions have very specialized equipment needs to fulfill their missions. The Workers’ Compensation Division and Unemployment Appeals Unit are utilizing voice recognition technology to dictate decisions. The Central Office maintains its own mailroom and printing capabilities. 

The department is responsible for the administration of state and federal statutes related to public health and safety and workforce and workplace issues. Iowa's Occupational, Safety and Health Administration and administration of workers' compensation laws are located within the department. IWD's emphasis is on voluntary compliance through education and preventive services.

IWD abides by the appropriate collective bargaining agreements and Iowa Department of Personnel policies related to hiring, employment and retention of employees. All administrative rules and procedures meet the requirements of Iowa's Administrative Procedures Act and open meetings and open records laws. IWD is also cooperating with the Department of Management to implement all requirements of the Accountable Government Act.

Our statewide service delivery system is governed by a series of service contracts, memorandums of understanding, and joint government sharing agreements. The agreements outline laws and regulations that must be followed to ensure the integrity of the system. 

The U.S. Department of Labor and Social Security Administration set minimum performance standards that we must meet to retain our federal funding and, in limited instances, receive possible performance bonuses. As standards and processes are changed, it affects what we do and how we do it.

The financial integrity of IWD is governed by inspections and reports of the State Auditor's Office and the Office of Inspector General.

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Organizational Relationships

Major customer groups include:

  • Businesses, including the self-employed.

  • Iowa workers and labor organizations that represent employees.

  • Schools, colleges and universities.

  • Individual citizens, including unemployed and dislocated workers, ex-offenders, welfare recipients, youth, minorities, disabled persons, mature workers, veterans, immigrants, students, teachers, college graduates, injured workers, and out-of-state residents.

  • Non-profit and governmental agencies, including economic developers, faith-based groups, other state departments, providers of employment and training services, community-based organizations and federal agencies.

  • Lawyers.

  • Journalists.

  • Governor and Iowa Legislature.

  • IWD employees.

Our customers’ demands are varied due to the diverse customer base of the department. In general, customers want services provided in a timely and accurate manner (e.g. unemployment insurance benefit payments, support services, job placement, and workers' compensation benefit determinations). Customers request as many transactions as possible be done electronically, such as EDI, wire funds transfers, etc. Many services, such as distribution of job listings, referral of qualified applicants and accurate labor market information, are also time sensitive. 

All customers (both internal and external) want to be treated promptly, pleasantly, courteously and with respect. 

With the rapid changes in the global economy and technology, we are expected to be proactive, responsive, and forward thinking. While major services are available electronically to assist those who desire self-services, many customers still prefer paper transactions and human interaction through face-to-face contact with IWD colleagues.

Within Iowa State Government, IWD partners with other state departments for various services, as well as resources to fulfill our mandated activities. Major partners are the Governor's Office, Departments of Personnel, Economic Development, Human Services, Information Technology, Education, Revenue and Finance, and Inspections and Appeals.

Other state-level partners include the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Iowa Business Council, Employers Council of Iowa, and other business and industry groups. Unions and labor organizations that represent workers have been strong partners of the department over the years.

At the local level, the Regional Workforce Investment Boards and Workforce Investment Act (WIA) service providers are very important partners of the department. Through these entities we can realize our strategy of more locally based decisions and locally designed services to meet varied labor markets' needs.

Suppliers fall into two categories, infrastructure/office support and customer support. For infrastructure and office support needs, suppliers include the Department of General Services (maintenance and capital improvements), Iowa Communications Network (telephone service and network infrastructure), Information Technology Department (enterprise technology standards and services) and various private suppliers of office equipment and supplies. The Department of Human Services provides part of the resources necessary for IWD to fulfill its vision and mission.

IWD's most important suppliers are the Iowa Legislature, U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of Labor. They provide the funding necessary to fulfill the department's mission, as well as require specific terms and conditions concerning the products and services we provide.

IWD has multiple federal and state funding resources that require efficient and effective administrative, accounting and monitoring systems to fulfill stewardship responsibilities. In addition, these resources are constantly fluctuating, making long-range planning efforts very difficult.

With the multiple funding sources also come more diverse missions and functions than most state departments face. This translates into a wide scope of services and numerous clientele groups that have conflicting demands and expectations. The Iowa Legislature also requires IWD to provide its service in all 99 Iowa counties. This mandate requires a flexible state/local service delivery system and the assistance of other workforce development partners.

Most frequently used communications mechanisms for partners and suppliers include: conferences; training sessions; network meetings; regular conference calls; written issuance series to relay policy changes; direct mail; e-mail; Web site; news releases; speeches by senior management staff; and press conferences.

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Competitive Environment

Technology is changing our competition with Web-based job listing services increasing. The IowaJobs Internet job listing service is similar to other Internet job placement Web sites, such as and

IWD provides labor exchange services that are similar to those of private employment agencies and newspapers. IWD develops labor market data that is then used by IWD and other private and public labor market information providers.

In the areas of OSHA, wage collections, and immigration, IWD provides services similar to those provided by worker advocacy groups, private lawyers, consultants, the federal government and private trainers.

IWD competes with federal agencies, such as the Departments of Labor and Education, as well as other state workforce departments for federal resources.

IWD promotes collaboration with partners, suppliers, and other public and private organizations. By working together, resources of multiple sources can be leveraged to solve Iowa’s workforce challenges. Also, by providing fair and equitable regulation for all and consistent standards, Iowans receive security, stability, and a level playing field for open competition for all.

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Strategic Challenges

A major strategic challenge currently is declining state and federal revenues to support the department’s operations without commensurate reduction in responsibilities. While we continue to try to “do more with less”, it is difficult to maintain service levels, response times, and perform mandated activities with less human and capital resources. We have to determine what services are being provided most effectively and efficiently and stop doing things that do not add value because “we have always done them that way” (within statutory limits).

A major factor affecting competitive success is the state's low unemployment rates, limiting the available pool of workers for Iowa businesses. Another major area of concentration is assisting underutilized populations to gain access to employment. In many instances, there are available workers, but they lack the skills required by employers.

Iowa’s demographics continue to change. Iowa is getting older and its population growth rate is lower than both the national and regional average. Local communities need assistance to successfully assimilate new populations and cultures to expand our population base.

Other challenge areas are the urbanization of Iowa, decline in family farms, a weak economy, globalization of business and the political environment. 

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Performance Improvement System

The Iowa Excellence/CQI Committee provides the organizational focus for performance improvement for IWD. The committee is comprised of senior management staff and staff members from all divisions. The committee is responsible for completing the Iowa Excellence assessment, improvement plan, and monitoring implementation of the improvement plan throughout the year. The makeup of the committee encourages organizational sharing of improvement techniques and results. Improvement efforts are constrained by federal and state statutes and requirements.

Each division is also reviewing its operations to identify areas for performance improvement.

The Unemployment Insurance Service Center is operational, but still developing its full capabilities to handle new and continued claims by phone and the Internet. The Service Center is partnering with the regional centers for claims handling to assist with heavy work loads and to provide in-person services for those who prefer it. The Service Center is also partnering with employers to file claims for their employees during mass layoffs.

Major strategy changes include a re-emphasis on customer service, easier access to services, as well as expanded self-service options. Many changes in customer service options are being made possible through deployment of new technologies.

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