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D.C. Inspector General: Mayor's Summer Jobs Program "Haphazard and Ad-hoc"

D.C. Inspector General Charles J. Willoughby and Auditor Deborah K. Nichols laid out a damning account of the failings of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's summer youth jobs program today, citing problems with contracts, technology, training and budgeting, as well as policy decisions, leading to a budget overrun of $30 million.

During a lengthy hearing before a D.C. Council committee, Willoughby called planning for the summer program "haphazard and ad-hoc" and said there was a "chaotic environment" within the Department of Employment Services.

Among Willoughby's findings: Contracts between the city and companies where the youth would be placed were not finished until after the program began in June; a new technology system to track participants and work hours was installed just two weeks before the start date, leaving no time for testing and training; and the poorly trained staff was unable to enter data into the computer system. The Fenty administration, which had sought to expand the program to accept any student looking for work, eventually ordered the agency to pay all students the maximum amount, Willoughby said.
Willoughby said his office has accounted for $39 million of the $49 million the administration has spent on the 10-week jobs program, but is still trying to figure out how the remaining $10 million was spent.

Much of Willoughby's findings corroborate media reports and an internal investigation Fenty's aides put together several weeks ago.

"Your preliminary findings seem like an indictment in every area of the program," council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large), chairman of the Committee on Workforce Development and Government Operations.

Nichols, following Willoughby's testimony, said youth were "paid whether they worked or not or were even assigned to a job site" and that some "were paid to sit in place for on or more days without performing any work."

By David A Nakamura  |  September 18, 2008; 4:15 PM ET
Categories:  Mayor Fenty  
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Next: Spencer Speaks; Fired Employment Director Makes First Comments on Summer Program

Comments

This entire program is a travesty and should be ended. It's a massive waste of taxpayer money.

Posted by: Hillman | September 18, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

If the Inspector General wants to find the remaining $10 million, then he should look no further than the employees that were in charge of the program---including Fenty. Everybody knows that those DC gov't employees have very sticky fingers. I bet that money is in somone's offshore account right now. Watch and see who in the office starts wearing a lot of fancy fur coats this winter. That's the culprit!!!

That program is a WASTE and it's not teaching those kids anything but HOW TO BE LAZY!!! The entire program needs to be ABOLISHED!!! Instead of paying kids to go to school, why not let the ones who get good grades and do well in school have the opportunity to earn money at a summer job where they actually work and learn something that could help them in the future?

Posted by: dcisajoke | September 18, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

My very first job was working for the WIC program at Columbia Hospital For Women. I learned a great deal and I am quite certain that it was the catalyst for my life-long work in public interest. It is a very valuable program and certainly not a waste of money.

Posted by: hickory12 | September 18, 2008 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I just read on the WCP's blog that the former DOES director showed up late into the hearing. Did anyone see it? What is TWP's take on it?

Posted by: Sam | September 18, 2008 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Summer Spencer did show up...I just got home and the people from the EOM got the hell out of there. Summer along with her lawyer were there and the funny thing is she said she learned of alot of changes and or new things happening in "her" own dept. at press conferences or "after" they were already put in place and this means that she did not get to way in on if she as the director felt any of these things would work.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2008 12:09 AM | Report abuse

She also said that the decision to include summer school students in the program announced to her about 2 weeks before the program started; that last Oct./Nov she started alerting about the need for much more money, and that in May 2008, she told Dan Tangherlini about her concerns about the contracting with vendors running late. So, the Mayor has said that Spencer never alerted the top officials (he and Tangherlini) about the problems until after the program started on June 16 and the problems became evident. Her testimony suggests, in some aspects, this may not have been the case.

Tangherlini said a number of times he takes "full responsibility" and was not interested in assigning blame, if so, why was Spencer fired less than a month after these allegations came to light?

Posted by: Beatleterp | September 19, 2008 5:14 AM | Report abuse

If a DC staff person had been responsible for the mismanagement of funds like this, I mean other than the DC CFO, Fenty would have let them go. Schwartz was correct. These Directors are afraid to say no to the Fenty administration. They keep trying to spin on that dime. A honest dialog needs to happen between the Agency Directors and Fenty's management team. I wonder what we don't know about?

Posted by: ward2 resident | September 20, 2008 8:03 PM | Report abuse

She (Summer) will be working in a different capacity real soon. She is not willing to jeopardy are gravy train just in case Fenty takes her back.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 21, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

I know a little about this, since I work there. First off, DOES's main job is Unemployment Insurance. All of the other programs at DOES get money, but are a small bit of what DOES does.

PLEASE, do not bash the employees who worked on the summer youth program. They worked overtime like crazy and I doubt they got paid for it.

Most of the folks at the Department of Employment Services have been there for years, and this is the first MAJOR "scandle" they have had, and are very angry about it. Most of the employees take pride in their jobs, because they serve the public, unlike other DC agencies, who do not deal with "helping others"...remember the Office of Tax and Revenue scam? The people at DOES are NOT like that.

As for Summer Spencer, she was set up. She was lied to, and was the fall person on this whole mess. Summer is a sweetheart, and she came from non-profit orgs, helping the homeless in the Washington DC area, and decided to quit her job as a CPA to help others!! Summer will have no trouble getting another job. She is too good a person to be in politics, that's all. She is a graduate of the University of Richmond, came to DC, and made another choice of careers...to put a better light on Ms. Spencer, please read the following link in her alumni news several months back:

http://business.richmond.edu/news_events/newsletter/spring2008/alumni.html

Unless you are there, work there, you can not know all the facts, and neither do I, but please respect what I have said, especially about Summer Spencer. Thnk you for your time in reading this.


Posted by: John Doe | September 21, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Many directors don't have a choice to say "no" to the Administration. One Director tried to push back on the Mayor in a meeting in August and was told, "If you're telling me that you cannot do this, I will find a Director who will get this done." AND the Administration is do vindictive that even those people who are fired still have to be worried about what other retaliation will be taken if they try to tell the truth.

Posted by: Chris | September 22, 2008 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Chris, you're so correct. Many of the teachers, principals and assistant principals couldn't find jobs after rhee used her 'power' to fire them. I wonder why ...
As for honesty, it was revealed in the past that money was stolen from the elderly by a very high official in DC. It isn't even the question that the money was repaid but rather that it was stolen in the first place. If you'll steal from the elderly, what won't you do when you think you won't get caught?

Posted by: southyrndiva | September 22, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Last night at the Ward 5 Democratic party straw poll, Democrat Kwame Brown received 41 votes,Independent Democrat, Mike Brown received 29 votes, Republican Carol Schwartz received 20 votes, Independent Dee Hunter received 10 votes and Independent Mark Long received 3 votes. The results are in and both Browns, Kwame and Mike are the winners! It appears we are headed for the "Brown Brothers" for our two at large seats.
Carol, take a hint from the voters in Ward 5. Your days are numbered. Thanks for your years of service to the District. But everything must change.
Congrats to the winners Kwame Brown and Mike Brown!

Posted by: Ward 5 Voter | September 23, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

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