A Government Accountability Office (GAO) study, commissioned by Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.), is bringing to question whether taxpayers should finance an $18-billion annual “investment” in federal programs that provide training to unemployed Americans. The 2011 analysis, which observed programs in fiscal year 2009, pinpointed a profuse and overlapping mesh of 47 different job-training programs administered by nine agencies.
“The vast majority of money we spend in job training doesn’t go to job training, it goes to employ people in those job training federal programs,” Coburn said in an interview with Fox News. Some programs are brimming with fraud and abuse, with taxpayer-funded dollars being spent on affairs that are in no way associated with professional training. For example, the study reported:
• Some job training participants spent their days sitting on a bus.
• Some were trained for jobs that didn’t exist.
• Others were paid to sit through educational sessions about jobs they already had.
• High school students were knowingly exposed to the cancer-causing agent asbestos as part of a job training program.
• Funds were misspent to pay a contractor for ghost employees and to purchase video games.
• Job training administrators spent federal funds on extravagant meals and bonuses for themselves.
• In one state, workforce agency employees took more than 100 gambling trips to casinos mostly during work hours.