Casey Calls for Inspector General’s Investigation Into Job Corps Enrollment Freeze that Will Cost Nearly 450 Jobs Statewide, Limit Job Training for At Risk Youth

Enrollment Freeze by Department of Labor Will Limit Students’ Access to Key Job Training Programs

Senator Stands With Students Impacted by Enrollment Freeze

Drums, PA- U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), today, called for an Inspector General’s investigation into an enrollment freeze at Job Corps Centers across Pennsylvania. Standing with students and stakeholders who have been impacted by the program at the Keystone Jobs Corp Center, Senator Casey asked for answers on the enrollment freeze.  

“The Keystone Job Corps plays a critical role in helping at risk youth get the skills they need to compete for jobs. The Department of Labor’s enrollment freeze is a step in the wrong direction,” Casey said. “Unemployment in Pennsylvania is still too high. At a time like this we need to be doing all we can to help residents get jobs, not taking steps to make finding work more difficult.”

The Department of Labor recently announced an enrollment freeze at Job Corps Programs around the country which will cost 450 jobs in Pennsylvania and prohibit the ability of at-risk youth to receive critical job training skills.  At the Keystone Jobs Corp in Drums 176 jobs will be affected.  Senator Casey asked the Inspector General to investigate the events that occurred at the Department of Labor that has led to the freeze.

Pennsylvania has four Job Corps sites across the Commonwealth: Keystone, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Red Rock.  These facilities provide disadvantaged youth with the opportunity to gain the skills needed to secure a good job, enter the Armed Services, or further their education.  Students, educators and community leaders rely on the contributions Pennsylvania’s Job Corps centers make to their communities. Senator Casey has visited some of these centers in Pennsylvania.

The following is a copy of the Inspector General’s work as described by legislation authorizing Inspector Generals

5 USC App. INSPECTOR GENERAL ACT OF 1978

§ 2. PURPOSE AND ESTABLISHMENT OF OFFICES OF INSPECTOR GENERAL; DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES INVOLVED

In order to create independent and objective units—

(1) to conduct and supervise audits and investigations relating to the programs and operations of the establishments listed in section 12 (2);

(2) to provide leadership and coordination and recommend policies for activities designed

(A) to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the administration of, and

(B) to prevent and detect fraud and abuse in, such programs and operations; and

(3) to provide a means for keeping the head of the establishment and the Congress fully and currently informed about problems and deficiencies relating to the administration of such programs and operations and the necessity for and progress of corrective action;

there is established—

(A) in each of such establishments an office of Inspector General, subject to subparagraph (B); and

(B) in the establishment of the Department of the Treasury—

(i) an Office of Inspector General of the Department of the Treasury; and

(ii) an Office of Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

The full copy of Senator Casey’s letter is below:

February 1, 2013

The Honorable Daniel R. Petrole

Dear Mr. Petrole:

I am writing to express my serious concerns with the management of the Job Corps program by the Department of Labor.  I am requesting that you conduct an investigation into the program and the source of its budgetary problems.

On January 18, 2013, the Department announced that it was freezing all new enrollments at the 125 Job Corps centers nationwide, due to a $60 million budgetary shortfall for program year 2012.  This freeze will result in significant job losses.  Pennsylvania will be one of the hardest hit states, with more than 400 layoffs projected—the fifth most in the country.  The freeze will also prevent almost 30,000 students from attending Job Corps, including more than 1,300 students at centers in Pennsylvania.

I am deeply troubled by these cuts, particularly since this is the second year in a row where the program has suffered from a major financial shortfall.  This kind of repeated problem raises serious questions about the management by the Department.  Pursuant to the Inspector General Act of 1978, 5 USC App., I ask that your office investigate the Department’s administration of the Job Corps program. 

Specifically, I ask that you investigate the following:

  • In a letter to Senators Harkin and Shelby dated June 20, 2012, the Department states that the program year 2011 shortfall went unrecognized in large part because Job Corps lacked needed “program monitoring tools and internal controls.”  Did the Department take the necessary steps to implement these tools and controls after this first shortfall?
  • It is my understanding that despite facing an initial shortfall in program year 2011, the Job Corps failed to obligate all of the funding appropriated to it, allowing $5.6 million to expire on June 30, 2012.  Why did the Department fail to make use of this funding prior to its expiration?
  • In its June 20, 2012 letter, the Department lists a number of specific long-term improvements it planned to take to prevent additional shortfalls.  Did the Department implement these steps?  If so, why were they ineffective at preventing a shortfall in program year 2012?
  • Has the Department effectively communicated with the operators of the job corps centers about budgetary issues?  Please provide an outline of how the Department conducts these types of communication.  Has the Department made use of cost-saving measures proposed by the operators in order to lower expenditures?
  • What were the root causes of the program year 2012 shortfall, and how do those problems compare to the program year 2011 shortfall?

At a time when Congress is looking to reduce spending, it is critical that programs like Job Corps operate efficiently in order to serve as many students as possible with the resources available. 

Thank you for attention to this request.  I look forward to your response,

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator