Labor Department's budget missteps led to Job Corps woes

Sunday - 6/2/2013, 7:48am EDT

SAM HANANEL
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Budgeting missteps and poor financial oversight of the federal Job Corps program led to shortfalls that forced the Labor Department to temporarily halt new enrollments earlier this year, according to a government watchdog report released Friday.

The department's inspector general found that Labor officials did not have a sound budget or spending plan for the program or have a process in place to accurately project spending needs.

Job Corps was forced to turn away about 10,000 disadvantaged and at-risk youths from its job training program earlier this year because of a surprise $60 million budget deficit. The freeze was lifted in April, but future enrollment is being cut by about 20 percent.

Jane Oates, the assistant Labor secretary charged with overseeing the program, announced her resignation earlier this month. Her last day in office was Friday, the day the report was issued.

The inspector general's report made a series of recommendations for improving oversight and detecting financial risks in the program. In its formal response, the department's Employment and Training Administration, which oversees Job Corps, agreed with all the findings and recommendations for corrective action.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said the report's details of financial mismanagement "sheds new light on the persistent failure to adequately budget, plan and monitor costs."

"Job Corps has a proven record of providing young people with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace," Casey said. "Unfortunately, mismanagement by Washington bureaucracy has undermined the program."

Casey urged the Senate to quickly confirm Labor Secretary-nominee Tom Perez and fill the vacancy at the office in charge of Job Corps.

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