Department of Labor IG report reveals Job Corps program inaccurately reports results

Yet another example of the federal government’s inefficiency. Administered by the Department of Labor, Job Corps is “a free education and training program that helps young people learn a career, earn a high school diploma or GED, and find and keep a good job,” according to the program website.

Especially at a time of 9.1 percent unemployment, Job Corps sounds like a sensible program — and private charities have proved job training and job placement programs can also be highly effective. Unfortunately, a new audit by the DOL Office of Inspector General found the government-run program lacks reliable performance metrics, leaving lawmakers (and taxpayers!) with little way to evaluate whether Job Corps fulfills its purpose.

Among other things, the audit found the program often inaccurately reports results, overstating its number of rules-compliant job placements. For example, the program claimed as job training match placements 3,226 matches in which the jobs did not relate or poorly related to the students’ training, 3,778 matches in which students were enrolled in postsecondary education or training rather than jobs and 1,569 placements in jobs that required little or no previous work-related skills, knowledge or experience (“such as fast food cooks and dishwashers that potentially could have been obtained without Job Corps training,” according to the IG report). Combined, those matches represented 42.3 percent of all the matches Job Corps reported. In some cases, Job Corps failed to report results at all or to publish what results it did have.

“We believe that if Job Corps improves oversight to better recruit, train and place these students, an estimated $61.18 million would be put to better use,” the IG report states.

Job Corps’ cost per participant is $26,551 — but its cost per job placement is $76,574. Give me one of those unemployed Occupy Wall Street protesters and $76,574 and I’ll find him a job — and I have no experience as an educator or job trainer (although my mom and dad do, respectively)!

Rep. Darrell Issa calls the inspectors general of the federal government “unsung heroes” — and I agree. Little by little, they reveal the waste and inefficiency of our federal government. Occasionally, they uncover really high-dollar waste. On a relative scale, Job Corps doesn’t waste much money: What is $61.18 million in the federal budget? Peanuts! But while these numbers aren’t as sexy as the billion-and-trillion price tags of other government programs, the point is the same: The federal government will never have as much incentive to effectively manage taxpayer dollars as private businesses and organizations have to effectively manage their own money. It’s not so much that I think Job Corps should be scrapped entirely as it is that, if I had a choice, I would rather be taxed one dollar less so I could donate one dollar more to a private organization that would really do the job training trick.

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David Strom 12:31 PM on December 01, 2022