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Federal agencies spent $18 billion in 2009 on 47 employment programs, with little evidence of the long-term success of the programs or the job seekers.

A Government Accountability Office report found that little is known about the effectiveness of most programs. Many track outcomes, but only five assessed whether outcomes resulted from the program and not from other causes.

“The effects of participation were not consistent across programs, with only some demonstrating positive impacts that tended to be small, inconclusive, or restricted to short-term impacts,” the report said.

The employment assistance programs typically target youth, veterans, Native Americans, and low-income job seekers, and are administered through the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services. Programs have separate administrative structures even though they provide many of the same services.

Florida, Texas, and Utah all consolidated their welfare and workforce agencies, but acknowledged that reorganization of state agencies and staff was time-consuming and costly. It took several years before states realized savings from the consolidation efforts.

FAST FACT: Of the 47 employment assistance programs offered in 2009, 42 did not have any studies to evaluate program effectiveness.

Following are other new watchdog reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), various federal Offices of Inspector General (OIG), and other government entities.


  • The Department of Energy has reduced energy usage by 16 percent but is unlikely to meet its goal of 30 percent. The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act requires energy efficiency measures in federal buildings, with the goal of each agency reducing energy intensity by 30 percent by 2015. (DOE Inspector General)


  • The City of East St. Louis, Ill., awarded over $1 million in contracts for housing rehabilitation without ensuring the contractors met required standards. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is requesting $127,000 be recouped from contractors who misspent the funds. (HUD Inspector General)

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