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GAO Study Shows More Work Needed on Education and Training Programs to Help Unemployed Find Jobs

February 10, 2011

On the heels of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued yesterday, the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee will begin a review today of the nation’s unemployment insurance program.  GAO’s report reviewed the 47 different education and job training programs currently run by nine different government agencies. The programs under review are designed to help unemployed workers, among others, get the skills they need to prepare for good-paying jobs. With an unemployment rate of 9 percent of higher for the 21st consecutive month, our economy and workers desperately need these programs to function well — now more than ever before. 

Unfortunately, the GAO report raises serious concerns about whether the $18 billion spent annually on these dozens of programs is working.  GAO found almost all these programs overlap and that practically none has ever been reliably tested for its effectiveness at preparing people for work.  Those are clear indications this system is not working as efficiently as it must to help Americans go to work.  Equally troubling are statements from Federal bureaucrats defending the current system, suggesting 47 programs under nine different agencies somehow make sense and “overlap” is not a problem.

Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) said: “At a time of record deficits, the American people deserve to know that the government is spending taxpayer dollars wisely.  This report is a stark reminder of the need for Congress to engage in vigorous oversight and to demand accountability and results.”

Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources Chairman Geoff Davis (R-KY) said: “Today the Human Resources Subcommittee will hold a hearing about possible improvements to the Unemployment Insurance system, which is designed to work with many of these education and training programs.  Several witnesses will discuss options for helping long-term unemployed people better prepare for and connect with jobs, such as expecting those without a high school degree to make progress toward a GED while collecting benefits.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Education and Workforce Committee to continue our efforts to consolidate and strengthen these programs, so more Americans can get the skills they need to get and keep jobs and help the economy recover quickly.”