Knowledge Development Report

Veterans' Employment and Training Services (VETS) Research Study Design

Published in: United States Department of Labor, Chief Evaluation Office (CEO) (February 2019)

Posted on RAND.org on April 17, 2019

by Jacob Alex Klerman, Andrew Clarkwest, Daniel Litwok, Zachary Epstein, Charles A. Goldman, William H. Waggy II, John W. Trutko

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Section 502 of the Jeff Miller and Richard Blumenthal Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2016 (PL 114-315) requires a "longitudinal study of job counseling, training, and placement service for veterans." There are many ways to conduct such a study, but these options vary greatly in their cost, logistical feasibility, and capacity to provide conclusive evidence to answer the specified research questions. To address this requirement, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued Solicitation No. 1605DC-17-R-00019 for a design project. On September 25, 2017, DOL's Chief Evaluation Office (CEO) awarded the contract for "Veterans' Employment and Training Services (VETS) Research Study Design" to Abt Associates and its partners, RAND Corporation and Capital Research Corporation. This Knowledge Development Report summarizes what has been learned from key informant interviews and review of the extant literature. Crafting a study design that rigorously addresses all of the relevant research questions entails a number of challenges. The design must be based on a thorough understanding of the legislative requirements, relevant programs and services, prior research, potentially relevant data sources, and analytic options.This document's purpose is to lay the groundwork for developing such a design for a study that can answer those research questions in a cost-effective manner. This opening chapter discusses basics about the VETS programs: Section 1.1 provides a logic model intended to capture the influences on veterans' employment outcomes that the study design must account for. It is followed by a discussion of the structure of the remainder of the document (Section 1.2) and this project's capstone document, the Evaluation Design Options Report (EDOR) (Section 1.3).

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