WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Senator Jack Reed is “pleased” the U.S. Department of Labor is officially ending its suspension on new enrollments in the nation’s federal Job Corps program, but the Senator remains “deeply concerned” that sequestration and financial mismanagement at the agency have caused budget constraints that may mean fewer young people will be admitted in the future. 

“The enrollment freeze was costing jobs and opportunities.  I am pleased the suspension has been lifted.  Exeter’s Job Corps Center is one of the best in the country and has helped many young people get back on track, learn new skills, and build careers.  I remain deeply concerned about the management of this program and will continue to work with my colleagues and officials at the U.S. Department of Labor to get the program working effectively again,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee who played a leading role in securing $15 million in federal funds to get Rhode Island’s Exeter Job Corps Academy up and running.

At a U.S. Senate hearing last month, high-ranking officials from the U.S. Department of Labor testified that sloppy financial management and a lack of program monitoring at the federal level led to a $61 million cost overrun, causing Job Corps to suspend new enrollments in January at all 125 Job Corps sites nationwide. 

Responding to a January 25 letter from Senator Reed and several of his colleagues, Labor Department Assistant Secretary Jane Oates, who oversees the federal Job Corps program nationwide, outlined several factors that contributed to Job Corps’ financial problems, including growing expenditures after the delayed openings of three new centers in 2010 and 2011, and “serious weaknesses in ETA’s and Job Corps’ financial management processes that led to a failure to identify and adjust to rising costs in a timely manner.” 

The Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Labor is conducting a review of the Department of Labor’s internal controls over Job Corps funds and expenditures and on the root causes of the funding shortfall.  Reed has requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigate the management of the process for implementing cost saving measures and the effectiveness of those measures. 

Reed estimated that the budget shortfall and impact of sequestration could mean the maximum enrollment at Job Corps Centers nationwide may be reduced by roughly 20 percent. 

Exeter Job Corps Center, which opened in 2004, provides free job training in a variety of vocations, including: computers, culinary arts, construction, hospitality, health fields, manufacturing, and other career paths, as well as transportation and dormitory-style housing for those who need it.  Enrollment at Exeter is typically over 200 students, with rolling admissions throughout the year.  Nationwide, Job Corps provides education and job training for about 60,000 disadvantaged and at-risk youths between the ages of 16 and 24.