The 2011 Government Accountability Office study, commissioned by Sen. Tom Coburn, casts doubt on whether taxpayers' $18 billion annual investment in federal jobs training programs is paying off, according to Fox News
Coburn told Fox News “The vast majority of money we spend in job training doesn't go to job training; it goes to employ people in those job training federal programs."
The report examining fiscal year 2009 found overlaps and duplicates in 47 federal jobs programs run by nine agencies. It also found mismanagement, waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption.
Among the findings in the study: Some job training participants spent their days sitting on a bus or trained for jobs that didn't exist, others were paid to take educational sessions about jobs they already had. High school students were knowingly exposed to asbestos as part of a job training program.
Misspent funds paid a contractor for ghost employees and to purchase video games and job training administrators spent federal funds on extravagant meals and bonuses for themselves. In one state, workforce agency employees took more than 100 gambling trips to casinos mostly during work hours.
Coburn’s criticism comes in the heat of a presidential campaign in which
President Barack Obama has made funding job training programs a priority, telling a crowd at Lorain County Community College in Ohio that “Ninety percent of people who graduate from this program have a job three months later — 90 percent." Obama also criticized Republican budgets that sought to cut funding for jobs programs.
Presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney has called for an overhaul of federal jobs training. He said at a Town Hall Meeting, "Let's take that money, give it back to the state, let you fashion your own programs so that you can train your own workers for the jobs of tomorrow."
The GAO report found since 2004, only five of the 47 job training programs have bothered to find out if participants ever secured a job, concluding "Little is known about the effectiveness of most programs."
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