On Friday, May 10, 2013 at the Clearfield, Utah Job Corps Center students were called in three at a time to receive news from staff that students attending SLCC, Weber State University, and the Davis Applied Technology College through the Job Corps ACT program would be going home.
“I was the first of my family to go to college, and for JC to screw us over like that was wrong,” says Charlie Marroquin, one student who was prematurely removed from the program due to government funding cuts.
Clearfield Job Corps is a source of free vocational and education training for qualified low-income and at-risk students between the ages of 16 and 24 serving Northern California, Colorado, Wyoming, Southern California, Utah, Montana and South Dakota.
Students at Clearfield Job Corps live in a structured environment designed to promote life skills and career development.
They typically spend between one to two years of self-paced study earning a basic vocational trade. After completion of basic vocational training, students could continue for an additional two years to learn an advanced trade.
Before college program funding was cut, Job Corps students could expect access to free college education and support for those who had successfully completed a vocational trade, a high school diploma or GED.
“All of us had problems with transition. It was closed, ended and abrupt,” said Dalyn Olmstead, a Job Corps student whose ambitions to achieve an advanced nursing degree at SLCC were cut short. Since Clearfield Job Corps, Dalyn has moved to Montana, and now holds a position in hospital administration.
Upon completion, college students were transitioned out of the college program as “full-completers” with an entitlement stipend of $1,000 dollars after taxes.
“I had all the help and resources I could get,” said Job Corps student Greggory Rowell, who made full use of available transitional Job Corps support, landing a job before he left.
Clearfield Job Corps is administered by a contracted organization, Management & Training Corporation, located in Centerville, Utah.
“Because of budget problems at the Department of Labor (DOL), all 125 Job Corps centers throughout the country, including Clearfield, had to cut student enrollment and other services. The DOL mandated that the college program at Clearfield be eliminated,” said Issa Arnita, Director of Management & Training Corporate Communications.
Many federal agencies have had to contrive budget cuts in order to meet universal federal deficit reductions in a budget sequestration that took place in February 2013. However, Job Corps budget cuts were a result of more than just a federally mandated budget sequestration.
A contractor administers each Job Corps Center. These contractors must bid on contracts to run Job Corps offices.
In May 2013 the Inspector General of the U.S. Labor Department reported that those running Job Corps had not been checking in with their contractors to see if they were staying within a 5 percent margin of their proposed budget.
The report indicated that Job Corps demonstrated an egregious lack of contractor oversight.
“As part gaining an understanding of the processes and controls over the monitoring of projected to actual costs for the period July 1 to November 30, 2012, a selected cost report for the month of October totaling approximately $872,000 identified 13 of the 29 expense categories had either an actual cost overrun or under run as compared to planned costs that exceeded established variance thresholds of 5 percent,” explained the Inspector General’s report.
Job Corps only had contact with contractors concerning, “two cost overruns, leaving the 11 remaining cost variances unaddressed,” stated the Inspector General’s report. Moreover, the report also indicated that contractors provided minimal explanation for the expense amounts that exceeded the acceptable 5 percent threshold.
The local contractor who runs the Clearfield Job Corps program confirmed that they did not exceed the 5 percent budgetary threshold in 2012.
“Over the last few months, Job Corps has worked with Job Corps operators to renegotiate contracts and make program changes not only to ensure Job Corps did not overspend in PY 2012 but also to create a program that is sustainable in PY 2013 and beyond,” wrote Deputy Regional Director of Public Affairs, Juan Rodriguez, in an email to the Globe.
The Inspector General report explained that Job Corps budgets are now to be more highly scrutinized than they were in the past.
Job Corps started to apply a rigorous new evaluation process that would eliminate inefficient parts of the federal program. The ACT program at Clearfield was found to be one such area that was affected by the new evaluation.
“The results of the analysis showed that a significant number of college (ACT) slots were under-utilized,” wrote Rodriguez. Rodriguez explained that instead of Job Corps cutting the on-center career technical training that took place at Job Corps offices they chose to delete ACT slots.
“Our future was taken away from us,” said former Job Corps participant, Darren Curtis.