Use of Comprehensive Employment and Training Act Funds for Prisoners

HRD-80-100: Published: Aug 4, 1980. Publicly Released: Aug 4, 1980.

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Due to concern expressed by a congressman that ineligible prisoners were being paid wages from Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) funds, the use of these funds by the District of Columbia Department of Corrections was reviewed.

Although many CETA prime sponsors served prisoners during fiscal year 1979, the total funds used to pay prisoners' wages was an extremely small part of total CETA funds allocated to these sponsors. Criteria limiting participation by prisoners in CETA programs have been established by Department of Labor regulations and instructions to sponsors and by States, counties, and prime sponsors. If consistently applied, these criteria should prevent prisoners who have long sentences remaining from participating in CETA programs. The current Labor regulation limits prisoner participation in CETA to those who have a reasonable expectation of release, parole, or work release within 12 months of CETA enrollment. A June 1979 Labor report stated that 39 of 52 prisoners who participated in the District of Columbia's CETA public service employment programs did not meet eligibility requirements. On the basis of documentation provided by the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, Labor allowed the funds expended before May 23, 1979. GAO believed that the documentation did not indicate that any of the prisoners participating in the District's CETA program were eligible for the work release program. Furthermore, the documents failed to show how the prisoners were selected for the program or why prisoners with life sentences were selected. It found that the documents were not sufficient to substantiate the Labor determination to allow the costs in question.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should (1) review the final determination, given the large discrepancy between the Office of Investigation and Compliance findings and the grant officer's final decision; (2) aggressively pursue the recovery of CETA funds used by the District of Columbia to pay wages to ineligible prisoners; and (3) act more quickly in the future to recover funds paid to ineligible participants.

    Agency Affected:


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