At-Risk and Delinquent Youth:

Multiple Programs Lack Coordinated Federal Effort

T-HEHS-98-38: Published: Nov 5, 1997. Publicly Released: Nov 5, 1997.

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Carlotta C. Joyner
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GAO discussed its work on federal programs that serve at-risk and delinquent youth, focusing on: (1) who administers federal programs serving at-risk and delinquent youth; (2) how much money is spent on these programs; and (3) what is known about their effectiveness.

GAO noted that: (1) multiple federal departments and agencies spend billions of dollars funding a wide variety of programs serving at-risk and delinquent youth; (2) many of the programs are potentially duplicative, providing services that appear to overlap those of other federal programs in the same agency or in other agencies, and many provide multiple services; (3) GAO's work suggests that this system of multiple federal programs arrayed across several agencies has created the potential for inefficient service; (4) a major information gap exists for federal decisionmakers who need to know what these programs are accomplishing both individually and in combination; (5) the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 can move the agencies that run these programs toward a more integrated approach to meeting common goals for helping at-risk and delinquent youth and should bring with it a greater emphasis on accountability and assessment of individual program results; and (6) GAO's analysis of some of the strategic plans required by the Results Act suggests that although the act may facilitate an integrated approach to program implementation and management, the strategic plans are not specific enough for GAO to determine whether an integrated approach is operating with respect to services for a particular target group, such as at-risk and delinquent youth.

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