Financial records of 12 of the 14 agencies that receive $12 million annually in federal job-training and placement funds through the D.C. Department of Manpower are incomplete and cannot be audited, a manpower department spokesman acknowledged this week.
The deficiences were disclosed in a confidential, seven-page report and accompanying documents compiled last month by the private accounting firm of Alexander Grant & Co., which attempted to audit the records.
Manpower officials have refused to release the materials, even to City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker, who requested the data for hearings this week on the on the city's $40 million manpower-training program.
Copies of the material have been sent to the Philadelphia regional office of the U.S. Department of Labor, which oversees administration of the $12 million in funds through Title I of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) program.
J. Terrell Whitsitt, regional administrator for employment and training administration of the Labor Department, said yesterday that because of the report and other questions raised about the city's manpower operations, federal auditors will be particularly observant when a regularly scheduled audit is carried out later this month.
"All of these events and developments raise questions that have to be dealt with about the management and performance of the District of Columbia's manpower program." Whitsitt said in a telephone interview, "We will do a fuller assessment than we would ordinarily do because of some of the questions that have been raised by the audits and the (City Council) hearings."
Whitsitt said even if the records cannot be audited fully, it would not jeopardize the city's entitlement to the funds, which are automatically sent to cities of 100,000 or more population based on a predetermined formula. But such a situation, he said, could lead to disqualification of some of the contractors involved.
The city receives about $13 million annually in CETA funds for job training and placement. Of that, $1 million is used by the manpower department for administration and the remainder is disbursed among 14 nonprofit agencies - including four in the D.C. government - that do the actual training and job placement.
In addition to questions about the completeness of financial records, federal officials also are interested in the criteria used by the manpower department to judge effectiveness of each contractor and the bases on which contracts are renewed each year.
At two days of hearings this week by Tucker and Council member Wilhelmina J. Rolark (D-eight), questions on contractor effectiveness and contract renewal sparked some lively exchanges between Tucker and department officials.
"You have no knowledge of where the people (in the programs) come from, or where they go, or whether they are worse or better off (after they leave) or whether they're there at all," Tucker manpower director Thomas A. Wilkins. "What do you do to pick the contractors? Throw the names down out a hat and those that come down face up get a contract?"
"We have the information, but it's not tabulated in the fashion or manner you like," Wilkins responded. "But I can assure you that each is being monitored for performance under the criteria" of the department. Those criteria, Wilkins explained, include "proven performance ability."
Tucker's request for materials from the Alexander Grant firm was sent to Mayor Walter E. Washington last week. When Wilkins was asked about the reports at Tuesday's hearings, he said they could not be released because his department had not received them.
However, Harold Bobys, vic president of the accounting firm, told The Post Thursday that a copy of the materials was sent to the D.C. Manpower Department March 25. Yesterday, manpower deputy director Lorenzo White acknowledged to a Post reporter that he had received the material March 28, but had not shown it to Wilkins before Wilkins' appearance at the Tuesday hearing.
White said when Wilkins said the department had not received the report Wilkins meant the department had not received an "official copy." The letter accompanying the materials was addressed to the Philadelphia office with a carbon copy for D.C. officials.
Adolph J. Slaughter, a manpower department spokesman, said the material would not be released until the estimate how long that might be.
Slaughter said that of the 14 projects, only two could be completely audited. Four others, he said, contained deficiencies Slaughter described as "minor." In eight others, he said, "there was a tremendous amount of information" outstanding.
Several other questions were raised about the city's manpower operations during Tucker's hearings:
Deputy D.C. Auditor Carl Bergmann said his office had found that although the city CETA job-training and placement program had planned that 42 per cent of its enrollees would be household heads and 37 per cent secondary earners, only 18 per cent were heads of households, while 51 per cent came from homes where someone else was the principal breadwinner.
Bergmann also said there is apparent conflict of interest because 13 of 38 persons on the federally required Manpower Services Planning Advisory Council, which has advisory power over who receives contracts, are themselves contractors. That situation is "not normal" and is "discouraged" by the Labor Department, an assistant to regional administrator Whitsitt said.
Some contractors testified at the hearing that they have had training slots available but have not received any persons through the D.C. manpower program.
D.C. Manpower officials said nearly 6,000 persons were placed in jobs through the CETA Title I program last year. About three times that number had applied.