“Weaknesses found in D.C. summer youth employment program” including “Some $43K in unaccounted-for transportation expenses”

Barry-No-Parking

From the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor:

“Please find attached a press release for the report, “Internal Weaknesses Found in Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program” (MBSYEP) from the Office of the D.C. Auditor. ODCA was directed to evaluate multiple years of the summer youth jobs program to assess whether the program has met and is meeting program objectives. The report is a review of MBSYEP during 2015 and 2016 and is the last of four reports intended to fulfill the Council’s directive.
The report’s findings include:

  • Some $43K in unaccounted-for transportation expenses.
  • Instances when DOES exceeded legally-mandated wage rates and hours of work for MBSYEP participants.
  • Weaknesses in the information technology system procedures used by MBSYEP that pose risks for waste, fraud, and abuse.
  • The lack of sufficient advance planning that caused adverse consequences for the effectiveness of the program and unnecessary costs.
  • Inefficient payroll processing, including 18 payrolls processed for a six-week program.”

You can read the full report here.

20 Comment

  • Hang on a second, you’re telling me that the Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program is poorly managed and potentially fraudulent? Knock me over with a feather!

  • “Only $43k missing? I’d consider that a success story” -Harry Thomas Jr.

  • I hope they make the appropriate corrections and keep the program active. I learned many of the skills I use today in SummerWORKS. Targeted communication, time management, training, desktop publishing, empathy, active listening, my love of old people (kinda not a skill but hey…), the list continues. I left the program with a better view of the world and a bunch of transferable skills. Granted, I was a middle class kid who’d never seen a roach working onsite for DCHA. I see so much promise in program. Get the kids out of their comfort zone and tap onto their skill set. Plus it stimulates the economy. After putting away the 20% my parents mandated, I blew the rest on food and the back-to-school clothes they deemed too expensive.

    • Interesting that the program worked for you. I think it was the Post who did a story on this a couple years ago or so where District government employees anonymously were complaining that the summer jobs program was essentially a jobs program and they had nothing for the student (and now adult) interns to do (especially when the work involved PII or other sensitive government work, etc). They said they were essentially warehousing the people, who sometimes did not even show up. This audit doesn’t even look at program effectiveness (is it worth it- what’s the ROI?), but I doubt people really want to know.

      • I read that article. Yeah, there were a lot of things I couldn’t do because of socials and other PII but there was ALWAYS something that office manager kept deprioritizing. She started handing them off to me. Sometimes I just talked with the seniors in the building, there were LOTS of lonely tenants. The first few years of my SummerWORKS eligibility, my parents found SAT prep programs that qualified. DCHA was my last and best year in SummerWORKS. I have multiple friends who went on to become real summer life guards when they came of age because they worked in some pool’s office in SummerWORKS, a friend who decided she wanted to be a teacher after being placed at a Rec. I personally know people who spent their SummerWORKS money on school clothes for themselves AND THEIR SIBLINGS. I can really only think of one person in my group of friends who stopped going to work. She was cleaning parks. When she stopped, her checks stopped. As a whole, I think the program is valuable, it needs focus and proper management. I know too many exceptions to the rule for them all to be exceptions.

        • Excited to read a success story and, based on my own experiences, summer work is a great idea. A summer job helps to build skills, character, work ethic and self-esteem. I’m even open to the DC government helping to coordinate jobs for district youth, but do we have to pay the wages as well?

          I think I just need to stop reading articles on this program and try to avert my eyes until we get to fall because it’s so frustrating the amount of spend and the highly varied results of this program.

  • You know what’s a shame: this story only getting two comments (as of my typing this) when the story about the mean troll, who doesn’t like dogs, gets about 40. Fraud, waste, and abuse is something that is serious and affects us all because we pay for it and it has the power to undermine confidence in the system. The guy that posted his dislike of dogs (which I could not, in a million years, understand) just isn’t as serious. You gotta let a guy like that roll off your back, since he likely has a lot of “issues” he is dealing with.

  • In other news, water is wet.

    As an “old timer” who has been in DC for decades, I will let you in on a “little known”. The summer youth program is and has always been a hot mess accompanied by a refreshing side of dumpster-fire.

    Fraud (hundreds of MD kids some how getting on the program and no one figuring it out, even though the payroll records had place of residence as “MD”, waste (the program has been over budget by anywhere from 20-50% more than a dozen times in the past 15-20 years, and now “youths” up to the age of 24 are now eligible (and are paid more per hour than the rest).

    The program has been around for almost 38 years and more than $1 billion DC Taxpayer dollars have been sunk into it, and look at the results. DC public schools graduation rate is lower than ever, unemployment and poverty for the city’s African American population is at all time highs.

    More than half a million kids have gone through the program since it’s inception (at a cost of $2,000 per kid) While I know there are a small handful of kids who got some value out of this program (other than cash), this program is nothing more than a “pay the kids to stay out of trouble” program and an incredibly expensive one at that.

    • “While I know there are a small handful of kids who got some value out of this program”

      Only a handful? Based on what metrics?

      I will offer readers a different view of the program. There are some MD kids in the program because some may have a legal guardian who lives in the District and one who lives in Maryland. (There is address fraud too but address fraud is a problem in DCPS and far more expensive than $2,000 per student.) I know more than a few MBAs and JDs (married to one) who passed through the program and value their SYEP experience. The program needs to be run more efficiently and it needs to evolve. It used to be easy to assign kids copying and other light clerical work but that work just does not exist now. I think the good outweighs the bad. At the very least they have to show up, sign up and attend events before they are assigned. Everyone does not grow up seeing the adults in their household going to work every day. Every kid does not get to attend ‘take your child to work’ day. If some additional kids get this type of exposure to me, as a tax payer, it is value added. As an aside some people just want to dump on DC, I am not even a native and it annoys the f*^k out of me especially when the critics offer nothing constructive.

      In some cities the SYEP has certain income limitations so it reaches those most in need and keeps cost /participation down. DC should consider that model; kids in need first, then a lottery for remaining spots to cap costs.

      PoP can you take a SYEP intern (or two) for the summer? They could learn a lot from you.

  • If you’re so concerned about waste, fraud, and abuse I hope everyone here favors decimating the Pentagon’s budget. They have a $6.5 trillion audit adjustment that cannot be accounted for, a staff of 1 million desk jockeys supporting 1.3 million soldiers, etc. Contractors living flush in Shaw, Potomac, and McLean are fleecing this country…yet nary a peep.
    #pennywisepoundfoolish

    • “Nary a peep”?

      While DoD budgets don’t come up often in a neighborhood blog that focuses on bar openings and pet photos, the two issues, defense spending and the summer program aren’t mutually exclusive.

      I rail away constantly (and so does everyone I know) about the ridiculous expense of the Pentagon, but that doesn’t mean I can’t also feel the summer youth program isn’t also a staggeringly poor use of money and time with zero value.

  • I think DC needs to cut this program and give the damn tax dollars back to the tax payers. The kids can get jobs on their own.

    • Is JL hiring? Are any of you or your organizations hiring for the summer?

      • Why don’t you hire them Shelley, with your companies or organizations. Then they can drown you of your resources. Kids can go get their own jobs. I’d rather have my damn tax money back. I would argue there is more programs and opportunities already in this city than anything within 200 miles of here.

  • Doesn’t the Paid Family Leave legislation call for D.C. gov to oversee the payments to people on leave? The summer youth employment legislation is a six week program for a relatively small number of kids each year. Multiply that $43K by the size of the proposed paid family leave program- and now you see one of the reasons why some people are horrified by the paid family leave legislation. Everyone who pays taxes in DC should get excited for their tax dollars funding fraud, waste, and abuse on Anuj larger scale, plus paid family leave for Maryland residents that is funded out of DC’s tax dollars (because DC will be providing paid leave to all workers in DC- even if they reside in MD)

    • Your connection between these two unrelated programs is very tenuous. Try again.

      • Wow. Floored by your brilliant response. Actually, there are quite a few similarities, which is clear if you look at the programs or understand how the D.C. gov works.

  • Harry Thomas Jr., has been out of prison for awhile now.

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