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Fenty Takes "Full Responsibility" for Summer Jobs Meltdown


At a news conference today, Mayor Fenty introduces chief of staff Tene Dolphin, who has been named to take over the troubled Department of Employment Services. (David Nakamura - TWP)

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty today forced the resignation of a top administration official in charge of the city's troubled summer jobs program and said his administration accepts full responsibility for the widespread problems.

Fenty (D) announced that Summer Spencer, director of the Department of Employment Services, has resigned. She will remain on the job until the summer program ends early next month, then be replaced by Tene Dolphin, Fenty's chief of staff.

That move came as the Fenty administration released the results of an internal report detailing a wide swath of errors that led to the city spending $31 million more than expected for the summer program.

In all, the District could spend $52 million this summer for the more than 21,000 students who have participated. The program's meltdown represents one of the biggest stumbles of Fenty's administration.

"I should have known earlier. More should have been done earlier," Fenty said of the internal problems. "I am personally at fault for these management issues."

Fenty defended his policy of allowing all youths who wanted a job to sign up, even though the program had a projected enrollment of 15,000 with a budget of $21 million. The mayor said the agency's mismanagement of the students after they signed up was a bigger problem than the open enrollment.

"Anyone who wants to go to school goes to school, but we know how to budget that," Fenty said.

The report showed that millions of dollars in contracts were finalized in the week leading up to the program's start and 5,000 students did not know where to report on the first day. Students who participated last year, but had dropped out this year, were still on the payroll, and the vast majority of participants were paid the maximum weekly salaries even if they did not show up for work, the report found.

At least 200 participants did not live in DC. At least 104 were too young or too old, and a few were older than 50. Some people were fired but were still on the payrolls.

Officials "did not know who was in the program, where they worked or how many hours they worked and what they were being paid," said Kevin Donahue, a mayoral aide who conducted the internal investigation.

Donahue said 5,000 students have been removed from the program, leaving about 16,000 still enrolled. Further adjustments will be made as more data is examined, and the payroll likely will decrease in the final few weeks, he said.

Once the problems were known in the middle of last month, the administration "underestimated the complexity of the challenge" to fix it, Donahue said.

Since then, City Administrator Dan Tangherlini has devoted his office around the clock to fixing the problems.

D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) commended Fenty for releasing the report and added: "I'm sure by next summer all the bugs will be worked out."

Fenty said he will turn over all the information his office found during its investigation to the D.C. Auditor and Inspector General, who are conducting their own probes on behalf of the council.

"We accept full responsibility," Fenty said.

Mayoral spokeswoman Carrie Brooks will replace Dolphin as chief of staff, Fenty said.

By David A Nakamura  |  August 12, 2008; 4:51 PM ET
 
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Comments

Sure sounds like sound management practices to me! If you are to blame why is this lady resigning. you fired the direct program manager, now the department director. Tends to show that your administration has no systematic structure for oversight and preparation.

i hope this will be printed as an actual new article.

Posted by: OKNOW101 | August 12, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

How about some transparency? What are Ms. Dolphin's qualifications? Let's be honest on this one. you have apparently had two people involved that were not qualified. so let's ask the question before we have the third.

Also, shouldn't Taglerini's office be up to speed and checking these programs ahead of time to assure they are working. this is the CAO role isn't it. Robert Bobb used to having meeting and briefing on Anthony Wms. major initiatives, capital spending, etc.

Posted by: OKNOW101 | August 12, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Maybe one of his biggest stumbles so far, but far from the only ones... some of which have not yet come to public attention... and meanwhile, he is over in Beijing partying?

Posted by: citizenW | August 12, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Is Fenty finally back from the games in Beijing? The article isn't clear about it.

If I read the article correctly, some 5000 individuals were removed from the program leaving 16,000 still enrolled. Approximately 25% of the participants didn't belong in the program. And these 5,000 were paid?

I suspect this is only the tip of the iceberg on the many fiscal and management problems facing this city on a number of fronts. Any bets when a control board will return.

Posted by: Former Fenty Voter | August 12, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

The DC Alliance of Youth Advocates will host a Community Meeting about the SYEP on August 19th at 4pm at 1500 Harvard St, NW. All are invited to attend.
For more information see www.dc-aya.org or call 202.587.0616 or email info@dc-aya.org.

Posted by: dcaya | August 12, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Here we go again. The Mayor or his Cabinet members think all they have to do is to say "I take full responsibility" and all will be forgiven. Remember - that is what the CFO Ghandi said about the multimillions that made the way to fraudulent tax refunds. How many millions does the government have to waste before the "I take full responsibility" line becomes trite? And what responsibility has this imparted to the youth who never worked but got paid anyway? Any DC taxpayer should be outraged.

Posted by: Newsfreak | August 12, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

concernedaboutdc wrote:
Let's see, Mayor Fenty, TELLS Summer Spencer not to turn ANYBODY down in this summer jobs program, she does what he says and when the budget goes bust, he fires HER. Yes someone should be fired, but that someone is the one who made the decision to run the program with no budgetary constraints. THAT someone would be Adrian M. Fenty. What's worse, he puts his Chief of Staff, who is grossly unqualified to run this agency in charge, which is clearly an attempt to "control information" flow, yet places the agency in deeper jeopardy. Moreover, it is a transparent maneuver that begs for a federal audit, particularly by the U.S. Labor Department if their funds were used in this program.

As "Saw's" Jigsaw said "The Games have just begun.?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 12, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Fenty never went to Beijing as he was in DC the first day of the Olmypics. This is one more of his many lied to voters

Posted by: Jonathan R. Rees | August 12, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Mayor Adrian Fenty can finally be called not just a liar but an idiot.

Mayor Adrian Fenty lied to the voters that he was going to Beijing for the Olympics but the truth is, he was in DC on the first day of the Olympics!

Next, Mayor Adrian Fenty accepted the resignation of Sommer Spencer who was the head of the DC Department of Employment Services and replaced her with his chief of staff Tene Dolphin who has no experience whatsoever in running a government agency let alone experience in the general field of employment services.

Mayor Fenty is clearly showing voters how incompetent a manager is and how much of a liar he is also.

Posted by: Paulie Russo | August 12, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Sorry? Your sorry? Look KID, in the grownup world, you have to do more than say "I'm sorry" and run outside and play. This is not a game. You are destroying this city in a way that Barry NEVER could. With Barry he was never given the finances to run the city into the ground, congress and the control board held all the cards since they didn't like him. With you.... you have all the resources a "Big City Mayor" could ever want or need and the only thing you can think to do is throw those resources in the trash and say you don't have to listen to anybody because your the BOSS. The sad part is you don't even realize how childish you look, running around calling press conferences all day in between your play time.

What you need to do... what you should have done from the start... is spend a week or two (or three if that's what it takes) in each agency, getting to know what the experienced employees actually do instead of telling them how you (with no experience) THINK it should be done. You may actually learn something that could help you get things back on track....

otherwise...
Well my vote counted in this last election and you can be sure it will count in the next!

Posted by: MYVOTECOUNTS | August 12, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

What you need to do... what you should have done from the start... is spend a week or two (or three if that's what it takes) in each agency, getting to know what the experienced employees actually do instead of telling them how you (with no experience) THINK it should be done. You may actually learn something that could help you get things back on track....

Or at least learn something so you can stop being the reason the city is loosing all of these law siuts. Do you even care how much money the taxpayers have to pay out because of you and your childish decisions? Maybe you don't care as long as you don't have to pay out of your pocket but guess what KID.... if you remain a resident, you will still pay it along with the rest of us.

GROW UP

Posted by: Anonymous | August 12, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Sorry? Your sorry? Look KID, in the grownup world, you have to do more than say "I'm sorry" and run outside and play. This is not a game. You are destroying this city in a way that Barry NEVER could. With Barry he was never given the finances to run the city into the ground, congress and the control board held all the cards since they didn't like him. With you.... you have all the resources a "Big City Mayor" could ever want or need and the only thing you can think to do is throw those resources in the trash and say you don't have to listen to anybody because your the BOSS. The sad part is you don't even realize how childish you look, running around calling press conferences all day in between your play time.

What you need to do... what you should have done from the start... is spend a week or two (or three if that's what it takes) in each agency, getting to know what the experienced employees actually do instead of telling them how you (with no experience) THINK it should be done. You may actually learn something that could help you get things back on track....

otherwise...
Well my vote counted in this last election and you can be sure it will count in the next!

Posted by: MYVOTECOUNTS | August 12, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Fenty is one term major for sure. He is so inept.

Posted by: silverspring | August 12, 2008 8:52 PM | Report abuse

SAD! Over 5,000 students recently removed from the program and another 5,000-7,000 were paid to attend summer school? Maybe if we stop paying students to attend summer school they won't end up running city government in the future. Just my thoughts....

Posted by: Wendell | August 12, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

I am hardly a Fenty fan, and yes, I knew that he was a liar and a tyrant when he was a councilmember. But perhaps his trip to Beijing is planned for the track and field events that don't begin until this Friday.

Posted by: WeNeedANewMayorNow | August 12, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Time for Congress to stop this music. Nothing like paying people for not showing up for work; is this what Adrian calls "developing good work habits"?

Give the city back to the Commissioners, ignore the screaming, and let the govt. thieves in D.C. go join Jack Johnson's incompetence brigade in P.G. County. The American taxpayer gets to foot the bill for "The Payment", and I am furious we have to endure this Third World crap.

Posted by: BanHomeRule | August 12, 2008 11:14 PM | Report abuse

This is Fenty's Fault. And we are supposed to forget that because he forced the director's resignation when she was just following his orders?

Wow...Just Wow.....

Posted by: 4thFloor | August 12, 2008 11:24 PM | Report abuse

"At least 200 participants did not live in DC. At least 104 were too young or too old, and a few were older than 50. Some people were fired but were still on the payrolls."

You really have to bend over backwards to screw something up this badly. There is no "software", "computer system", or "complexity" in the prgram itself, that is so poorly designed or so ineptly put to use that it could come close to explaining this debacle. What we have experienced throughout the Fenty Administration is negligence and incompetence of such magnitude that, quite possibly, the city has never seen before.

Granted, many of these problems were seeded before Fenty took the oath. But with all the empty promises we were fed about a new hands-on leadership style, and breaking the bad habits of the past, the only good thing to say about the Mayor at this point is that he has assumed personal responsibility for the problems.

To demonstrate any sincerity behind the one and only positive gesture the Mayor has made, his only option is to resign, immediately. How many tens of millions of dollars have to disappear needlessly from the city's treasury before he and the rest of us admit to ourselves that it just isn't working?

As for the City Council, I have one question: why do you even exist? You have done nothing to provide any sort of check or balance against the runaway incompetence of this administration.

Not one of you has called upon the Mayor to resign for the well-being of the city you supposedly serve. Not one of you has stood up for the rank-and file civil servants whose careers have been cruelly and needlessly ruined by the out-of-control jackasses who are supposed to be your partners in governing this city.

None of you has a clue. You are running the city into the ground, faster than any of you can possibly conceive of. If you can do nothing to stop the rot except asking a lot of stupid questions and accepting even stupider non-answers, the least you can do is resign.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 12:22 AM | Report abuse

Anon - The City Council have been trying to put him in check, but they can only do so much. Especially Gray. Fenty has ignored everyone, though.

I'm sorry you guys were fooled that Feny would be an agent of change (sound fanilar?!?!?). We should have put in Cropp. But the new gentrified residents sought elsewise. This wouldn't have happened under a Cropp Administration because of her decades of working in the DC government. She knew how it works......

Now, should we project this out as how a Obama lead administration will look?

Posted by: 4thFloor | August 13, 2008 12:37 AM | Report abuse

4th Floor, re: Fenty = Obama --

I don't think so, and I don't get the basis for the comparison. I don't think it's in Obama's nature to assume his colleagues and constituents are fools. Look at the way he and his staff ran his primary campaign, it was unmitigated brilliance (combined with a bit of luck and timing, or course). I have yet to hear him speak of turning entire agencies upside-down that he knows next to nothing about.

Bottom line, there's just no comparison -- in magnitude or actual difficulty, between Obama's national campiagn and the governance of a small, politically monolithic American city.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 12:49 AM | Report abuse

One more key difference -- Obama will not have the luxury of coasting on his immediate predecessor's manifold, beneficial, hard-won accomplishments. I don't think there's any secret about this!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 1:00 AM | Report abuse

I respect your thoughts anon. But, I have this strange feeling and it is almost the exact feeling I had during the democratic mayoral race for mayor.

Please read this very insightful article about how Obama got to where he is now:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/21/080721fa_fact_lizza

It's not trashing Obama at all. It's just givibg a lot of background that I believe many do not know about. It basically just shows he's a very smart politician. Too smart for his own good......

Posted by: 4th | August 13, 2008 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Let's try that again

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/21/080721fa_fact_lizza

Posted by: 4th | August 13, 2008 1:15 AM | Report abuse

WOW 4thFloor..... I am sorry to say, that thought has been in the back of my mind for about 5 months. I had to finally admit to my family and friends that yes... FENTY is messing OBAMA up for me. I will never vote for McCain so I guess in the end Obama will get my vote but....

I see this young, articulate, intelligent young man who has so much energy, seems to care so much for the "little people" and I think to myself, didnt we just do this with FENTY? And what did we learn from putting this young, inexperienced agent for change into office? We learned that he hasnt actually stayed long enough in any of his positions to actually effect a change, his abundance of energy means he cant sit still long enough to stay focused on any issue for the time needed to make the necessary changes..... at any rate,
yes 4thFloor, Fenty has messed up Obama for me.

Posted by: dcres | August 13, 2008 7:33 AM | Report abuse

People, People. Please get a grip. How dare anyone compare Obama to Fenty! Obama has a well-educated, fine-tuned brain, whereas Fenty has only testosterone. Obama makes sense when he speaks, while Fenty is a blundering idiot, who can only say - "I take full responsibility" - but not have a clue as to how to do that, other than fire people. Obama actually has a vision, where as Fenty only says he does. Anyone who claims Fenty is messing things up for Obama never has really understood the presidential candidate at all. NO COMPARISON WHATSOEVER!!

Posted by: Newsfreak | August 13, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Mayor Adrian Fenty of DC may soon be looking for a new city administrator to replace Dan Tangherlini.

Highly reliable sources state that DC City Administrator Dan Tangherlini has quietly been applying for and interviewing for positions outside of government.

These same reliable sources state that Tangherlini is fed up with Fenty and his psychotic ways and is seeing the writing on the wall; namely, the Fenty Administration is slowly falling apart.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

As a tax payer I am appalled at the mismanagement of MY money...paying kids to sit in gyms and do nothing!!!! they've had all year to make this program work and this is what they have to show for it?!?? The children in the Fenty bullpen have no clue what they're doing and I for one am as ashamed as ever of having voted for Fenty...and like others, he's making me think twice about Obama's experience. Fenty's chief of staff has no qualifications for this assignment.

Posted by: ward3one | August 13, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Fenty you fired the head of the DC human Services over the death of the 2 children in SE; You took over the School system and currently trying to brake the teacher union; you fired/forced-out the head of the DC Summer job program; But you did nothing to D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi when 40 + million was embezzled over 20 years and Gandhi was CFO for ten of those years, what was he doing for ten yrs, what was he auditing or was he part of it .... GO FIGURE Gandhi should have been fired too

Posted by: Hillcrest | August 13, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

"I take full responsibility..."

IF ONLY..!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

People,
Before we get carried away about Obama, let's remember that John F. Kennedy was elected president at the age of 43. Obama is forty-six. There is a lot more experience with Obama and the vast experience of those who are his advisors.

Posted by: dcvoter | August 13, 2008 8:04 PM | Report abuse

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