Head of Office Was Fired Before Payroll Problems

By Michael Birnbaum and David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 24, 2008

The District fired the head of the Office of Youth Programs because of problems with the city's summer jobs effort, days before human error and computer glitches led to thousands of students coming up short on payday.

Yasha Williams, head of the office responsible for the summer program, was fired July 16, according to Diana Johnson, spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Employment Services.

That was two days before massive payroll problems led to half of the 19,000 program participants being either unpaid or underpaid.

The Office of Youth Programs oversees the summer program, the Mayor's Youth Leadership Institute, which works with students year-round, and several other programs that teach career skills to young people.

Williams had been head of the office for eight months, Johnson said.

Problems with the program's initial registration also occurred, officials said. D.C. Council members Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) have called for an audit of the jobs program by the D.C. inspector general, and Schwartz said she plans to convene an oversight hearing when the council returns from recess in September.

Barry was traveling yesterday and unavailable for comment. But on Friday, he said that Williams "doesn't have much experience" and that "people without experience, they don't know how it works, and it's the kids that suffer."

Williams did not return calls to her home yesterday.

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