Nov. 15, 2001 – The V.I. Labor Department has been doing a good job of monitoring businesses that provide training under Job Training Partnership Act programs, but its oversight of participants and funding leaves something to be desired. Those are the findings of an audit by the U.S. Interior Department's Office of Inspector General.
The national JTPA was created in 1982 to help better prepare youth and underemployed adults for the demands of the job market.
The report covers the years 1998 and 1999 and was conducted as part of the office's ongoing oversight of territorial operations and federal funds. The time period precedes the current administration. The Inspector General's last audit of JTPA was issued in 1996 and covered the years 1990-93.
The audit report released this week said the V.I. government was shelling out local taxpayer dollars for the training programs while it left federal funds unused.
The U.S. Labor Department awarded the local department $2.14 million for 1998 and $2.17 million for 1999. By the end of 2000, $1.32 million of the federal funding was still available to the territory. Meanwhile, although there is no requirement for a local match, the V.I. government appropriated $509,000 in 1999 and $491,000 in 2000 to JTPA initiatives.
Accounting was so poor that the auditors were unable to draw conclusions about much of the JTPA expenditures, the report states.
"The scope of our review was limited because Labor personnel were unable to provide us with lists of specific expenditures and the related supporting documents for amounts included in financial status reports and grant drawdowns," the audit reads. "We were unable to determine whether the expenditures of $3.06 million [in 1998-99] were reasonable, allowable, and allocable pursuant to the grant agreement provisions."
The auditors also found that procedures were lax in establishing the eligibility of people receiving training under the program. They reviewed the files of 259 participants and found paperwork missing for 86 of them. In some cases, individuals had been placed in jobs without first completing basic application forms. Other files were missing the required Test of Basic Education and/or a Notice of Participation.
The report also cites a problem that has been seen in other parts of government — undue delays in transferring money deducted from workers' paychecks to the accounts for which they are intended. The audit found delays in channeling income tax deductions of as much as 234 days, or approximately eight months.

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