The Corner

‘Help Wanted’

Senator Coburn just released this new report called “Help Wanted,” which looks at federal job-training programs and documents examples of waste, fraud, and mismanagement.

Today, nine federal agencies are in charge of 47 employment and job-training programs. The report notes that:

[The Government Accountability Office] identified another 51 federal programs that could be categorized as federal job training programs, but that were ultimately excluded from its final list. For example, GAO does not include in its total all federal assistance to the unemployed workers – such as the Social Security Administration‘s Ticket-to-Work program.

According to the GAO, it costs taxpayers $18 billion annually to administer these programs, only five of which have had an impact study completed since 2004. Half of these programs have not had a performance review since 2004. In other words, little attempt has been made to determine these programs’ effectiveness.

Until now, that is. The report concludes that with one exception, none of the programs are effective at helping unemployed workers find new jobs. All but three of the 47 programs overlap with at least one other program in that they provide similar services to similar populations.

A very interesting section of the document is called “Where are the green jobs?” It explains:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) allocated $90 billion for green job technology, including a number of ―green collar‖ job training programs. In late 2010, the President said ―there is perhaps no industry with more potential to create jobs now – and growth in the coming years – than clean energy.‖103 Indeed, Vice President Joe Biden stated people who make $20 per hour before a green job training program can make $50 per hour after. And, on average, clean-energy jobs pay 10 to 20 percent more than similar work outside the field.

One caveat: there must be jobs for these newly trained workers.

And remember that, as shown by a study from King Juan Carlos University in Spain (a country often praised by the president for its leadership in green jobs and technology), for every new position that depends on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear.

The stimulus included at least $805 million in spending and $2.3 billion in tax credits for the clean-energy manufacturing sector.The spending breakdown:

• 490 million through DOL for green jobs training.

• $9.75 billion to renovate schools.

• $5 billion to weatherize low-income homes.

• $300 million to replace old appliances with “Energy Star” products.

Finally, here are some of the examples of waste, fraud, and mismanagement in job-training programs that you will read about in the report

Grants to Admitted Thief:  In West Virginia, Martin Bowling – an admitted thief with a long rap sheet – was the primary beneficiary of a $100,000 federal worker training grant, and was put up for another federal job training grant worth $1 million by his mother, a state official at the time.

 Tampa Bay Binge: The Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance in Florida used federal job training funds for self-indulgent binges on food and other extravagances, including: lunch at Hooters, valet parking for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory (topped with $9 dollar slices of cheesecake), $20 delivery fees for cupcakes, $443.99 on flowers, 300 koozie drink holders and more.

$4 for Us, $1 for Workers: A Montana trade union, tasked with managing a half million dollar federal job re-training grant, was found to have spent four times as much on salaries than on actual training of displaced workers.

State Job Training Executives Scheme Bonuses, Frequent Casinos During Work:  Iowa workforce executives conspired to enrich themselves with $1.8 million in bonuses – paid for with federal funds – while engaging in sexual relationships and frequenting casinos during work.

Job Training to Sit on a Bus:  In San Francisco, California, graduates of a federally-funded job training program recalled receiving “little training” and having been paid to “sit on a bus.”

Job Training Funds for the Already Employed:  In Oregon, local companies used federal job training money to pay for training sessions to help the already employed carry out projects.

For the full report, click here.

Veronique de Rugy — Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Most Popular


The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More