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New Trade Adjustment Assistance program rules published

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor yesterday unveiled a new regulation that is the first substantive rulemaking on the Trade Adjustment Assistance program in more than 15 years.

The rule will implement changes to the TAA funding formula, as required by the Trade and Globalization Adjustment Assistance Act of 2009, which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. These changes to the funding formula will improve the way the department provides TAA funding to states.

The rule also requires that TAA-funded personnel administering services and benefits to workers covered by certifications be state employees covered by a merit system of personnel administration.

The new formula provides states with a predictable level of funding at the start of a fiscal year and allows for additional allocations of funds as needed. This funding approach responds more quickly and effectively to states’ needs than the formula previously used by the Labor Department. Additionally, this regulation reflects an increase in training funds provided under the TGAAA. The department may now provide states with up to $575 million in training funds in a fiscal year, replacing a previous limit of $220 million per year.

States administer the provision of benefits and services in the TAA program as agents of the United States through an agreement between the state’s governor and the U.S. secretary of labor. As part of that agreement, this regulation requires that, after a transition period, a state must engage only state government personnel to perform the time-sensitive and complex TAA-funded functions undertaken to carry out the state’s responsibilities under the Trade Act. Additionally, states must apply to these personnel the standards for a merit system of personnel administration.

The rule is published in today’s edition of the “Federal Register” and will go into effect on May 3. In response to comments received on the proposed rule, the department has adopted a longer transition period with a deadline of Dec. 15, 2010, for states to comply with the merit staffing requirements.

To view more details about this rule, visit www.dol.gov/regulations.

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