D.C. Might Outsource Summer Jobs Payroll
The mismanagement of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's summer youth jobs program last year has been well documented. After the mayor ordered that the program accept all comers, more than 20,000 students showed up and the Department of Employment Services wound up spending nearly $50 million on the 10-week program, about $30 million more than the initial budget. It didn't help that the city paid $10 million to three dozen contractors to house the students.
Since the arrival of new employment agency director Joseph Walsh in November, the Fenty administration has been working to revamp the program for this coming summer. One of the major changes, D.C. Wire has learned, is that the city is considering hiring Automatic Data Processing, Inc., (known as ADP) to take over the summer jobs payroll system.
Last summer, the employment agency tried to install a new pay system, but agency employees lost track of where the students were working and how many hours they worked. Fenty eventually ordered that every student be paid the maximum amount, leading to the bulk of the budget overrun.
ADP has $9 billion in revenues and over 585,000 clients, according to its Web site. Although the District has not entered into a contract with the company, ADP representatives have been sitting in on meetings between Fenty administration officials and D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi's office, sources said.
One question that remains is how ADP, if it takes over, would ask Gandhi for a lump sum ahead of the summer in order to be able to pay students or submit invoices every two weeks, as the employment office attempted to do last year.
In the meantime, the city is still working on where it intends to place students who enroll in the program, which has about a $31 million budget this year. Support from the private sector has always been poor, and the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, which placed several hundred students last year, dropped out of the program after last summer's debacle.
Still, the Fenty administration, which declined to comment on changes to the summer program, is pitching the program in a letter to the business community as new and improved:
The District is making some changes to the program to ensure better experiences for employers and youth. This year, you will be able to post positions on an SYEP job board, and define qualifications or ranking factors youth have to have in order to participate. You can choose to become more involved in the recruitment process, including ranking applicants and conducting interviews. The result should be placements that more accurately reflect the needs and interests of employers and youth employees. In addition, the District intends seek youth participants through resources that have not been tapped through SYEP in the past. Among those resources include area universities and colleges. The District hopes that by tapping into these resources, it can offer a more highly qualified and career-oriented youth workforce.
David A Nakamura
February 12, 2009; 3:23 PM ET
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