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."