Green jobs program gets Federal audit

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently conducted an audit on the Recovery Act Green Jobs Program. 

The audit was carried out to determine specifics of the Green Jobs Program, as well as some technicalities of the “green jobs” concept itself, such as how the Department’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) defined green jobs; the amount of funding going towards green job training and creation and its distribution; and the outcomes of such funding in terms of meeting employee training and placement, and job retention.

The OIG’s audit found that the ETA defines green jobs as jobs pertaining to products and services that use renewable energy resources, conserve natural resources, and/or reduce pollution such as carbon emissions. 

This definition was used by the ETA when awarding grants, and is in compliance with Recovery Act requirements. 

In total, the Recovery Act provided $500 million in funding for research and job training programs to train workers for employment in the energy efficiency and renewable energy fields.

In addition to training future employees, the ETA also used the projects to gather information on market trends.

A total of $490.1 million was used for three training programs, labor market information, and training program development. The remaining $9.9 million was used by the ETA for administration and technical assistance. 

However, recipients of the grants have reported using only about 33% of the funding, even though nearly three-quarters of the grant time has passed, leaving a total of $327.3 million unspent as of June 2011. 

Both the ETA and grant recipients have also reported limited success in both serving and placing workers.

The reports show that 42% of a target 124,893 workers have been served, while only 10% of a target 79,854 workers have been placed into employment.

The OIG, on completing its report, issued recommendations to help improve the program.

They recommend that the ETA Assistant Secretary evaluate the program, and make a realistic assessment of what grantees would spend in relation to today’s market on training projects. Anything left over, they say, should be recouped as soon as possible to be used for other purposes.

Laura Caseley, EarthTechling