Job Corps:

Participant Selection and Performance Measurement Need to Be Improved

T-HEHS-98-37: Published: Oct 23, 1997. Publicly Released: Oct 23, 1997.

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Carlotta C. Joyner
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed Job Corps, a $1-billion program administered by the Department of Labor, focusing on how Labor can improve the selection of Job Corps participants and how it can improve the information it has available on program placements in order to adequately manage the program and assess placement contractor performance.

GAO noted that: (1) Job Corps needs to improve the selection of program applicants in order to decrease the early dropout rate for program participants; (2) Job Corps needs to identify participants, from among its eligible population of about 6 million, who have the commitment, attitude, and motivation to complete the training and benefit from Job Corps' comprehensive and intensive services; (3) the procedures that the more successful outreach and admissions contractors use include commitment checks as well as preenrollment tours and briefings, which give applicants a more realistic basis for deciding whether to enroll in the program; (4) Job Corps' policy guidance for 2 of the 11 eligibility criteria is ambiguous and incomplete, leading to an eligibility determination process that fails to follow the requirements of the legislation and program regulations; (5) although Labor uses performance measures to make decisions about renewing placement contractors, GAO found that two of the four measures Labor uses do not provide information meaningful for assessing the performance of placement contractors; (6) related measures regarding overall program performance are flawed, thus inaccurately assessing program performance; (7) although Job Corps reports that about 65 percent of its participants are placed in jobs and about 46 percent of these placements are related to the training participants receive, GAO's work has raised questions about the accuracy and relevancy of both of these figures; and (8) these flawed measures jeopardize the ability of Job Corps, the Employment and Training Administration, which administers Job Corps, and Labor in general to determine whether the goals stated in Labor's strategic plan are being achieved.

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