More than $425,000 in federal job training funds has been wrongfully paid by the District of Columbia to 39 inmates of the Lorton Reformatory, according to a federal report released yesterday.
A preliminary investigation released last year indicated that more than $200,000 had been paid to 27 inmates who were ineligible for the program.
The new figure -- $426,959 -- is based on final results of a General Accounting Office investigation released yesterday by Rep. John Cavanaugh (D-Neb.)
Cavanaugh said he will call on the U.S. Labor Department to recover the money either directly or by reducing future funds allocated to the job training program in the District of Columbia.
The funds came from the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act program, which was designed mainly to hire and train disadvantaged people to enter the job market.
Federal regulations issued in 1977 make eligible for the program prison inmates for whom there is "a reasonable expectation" of release within a reasonable time after completion of the job training.
Cavanaugh began his own inquiry into the CETA program at Lorton after receiving an inquiry from a constituent. He charged in the report he issued last year that the District violated the eligibility rules about reasonable expectation of release.
Among those on the Lorton CETA payroll, he said, were prisoners not eligible for release until 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991 and 2003.
District officials said last year that the city adopted new rules in March 1979 restricting CETA prison jobs to those inmates eligible for parole or release within 18 months.
The said the reforms were a direct result of Cavanaugh's inquiry.
According to information released yesterday by Cavanaugh, the GAO study, made at his request, found the number of Lorton inmates who received misspent funds was more than his initial investigation had disclosed.
Cavanaugh said that the GAO inquiry, begun after he had completed his, found that 39 of 52 who had been in the Lorton CETA program had been ineligible for the $426,959 they received.
An aide to Cavanaugh said all the money was spent before the congressman completed his initial inquiry and before the city made its reforms.
In his statement, Cavanaugh charged that the U.S. Labor Department had "dragged its feet" for almost two years in attempting to recover any of the money.
Cavanaugh said a Labor Department official ruled on May 29 that only $28,370 needed to be recovered.
He said he plans to call for a congressional hearing on the Labor Department's policies and practices in the case.
In addition, he said he was sending a letter to the Secretary of Labor, "requesting that the total amount of money owed to the taxpayers be recovered either directly or through a reduction in future CETA grants given to the District of Columbia.
"If Labor does not respond positively," he said, "I will take the matter of recovery to the floor of the House."