Sen. Coburn Exposes Wasteful and Inefficient Jobs Training Programs
With unemployment still above 8 percent, Americans are understandably focused on job creation. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka Stimulus Bill) was supposed to be the salvation of the American workforce. Unfortunately, all that was created was more government bureaucracy and more wasted money. A recent article on Breitbart.com highlighted a report released by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) that deals with another failure of government, job training. The oversight report, “What Works (and What Doesn’t): The Good, Bad and Ugly of Federal Job Training in Oklahoma,” identified and brought to light many of the realities and inherent shortcomings that often plague government-orchestrated job programs. In his piece, Breitbart’s Wynton Hall begins by revealing one of the most alarming discoveries of Coburn’s report. Hall writes “billions of taxpayer dollars are being poured into job training programs that benefit those who run them, not the unemployed workers they are supposed to assist.”
The report’s key findings (read all the finding’s here):
- Duplication and overlap among federal job training programs is rampant and creates problems for the states administering the programs.
- Federal job training dollars are spent on questionable items and activities which do not lead to sustainable employment.
- Individuals, who receive job training, often do not enter related fields of employment.
- Performance metrics for job training programs are severely lacking.
Unfortunately, these disconcerting conclusions are not unique to Oklahoma and often also occur within state or local government job programs. For example, here’s an excerpt from a 2010 Washington Post story, which exposed allegations of fraud found in DC’s Youth Employment Program. The piece explains that DC officials began looking into claims that “a staffer embezzled funds after stealing the identities of up to a half-dozen youths in the city’s jobs program…“the staffer inflated the pay of participants in the summer youth employment program by anywhere from $7 to $25 an hour.”
And going further back still, a headline in a 2008 Washington Post article read, “D.C. Inspector General: Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program ‘Haphazard and Ad-hoc.’” Similar to the findings of Sen. Coburn’s report, this DC jobs program was also fraught with redundancies, questionable activities and poor, if any, oversight. For example, the story reveals that the IG so far had been unable to account for $10 million of the money that was allocated for the program. The report contains other disconcerting facts.
The additional findings of the DC IG Charles Willoughby’s report are worth citing in full, “Contracts between the city and companies where the youth would be placed were not finished until after the program began in June; a new technology system to track participants and work hours was installed just two weeks before the start date, leaving no time for testing and training; and the poorly trained staff was unable to enter data into the computer system. The Fenty administration, which had sought to expand the program to accept any student looking for work, eventually ordered the agency to pay all students the maximum amount...”
It is particularly frustrating to see that the DC government has continued to fund this program even still today despite its undeniable failures and inability to meet its goals or objectives. Unfortunately, the revelations of the DC report are alarmingly similar to other examinations and investigations into ineffective, wasteful government job training programs. What’s even worse is that despite the significant shortcomings and failures of such job programs, the government continues to create more programs like these. For example, the federal stimulus included many new green job training programs, which in some cases trained people for jobs that literally did not exist and the jobs supposedly created fell far short of the promised amount.
As Friday’s job numbers demonstrate, our nation’s recovery remains a far way away. Even with Friday’s announcement of meager jobs gains, our country still has far too many unemployed, and what Washington did and continues to do is failing Americans. It’s time for our elected officials to see that the only way government will ever be able to have a hand in job creation is by stepping out of the private sector’s way. The federal government can do this by making the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 permanent and supporting businesses by halting onerous taxes like those in Obamacare.