Loose Lips

Federal Inspector General Faults D.C. Employment Office

An audit by the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General released yesterday found that D.C.'s Department of Employment Services had numerous accounting and record-keeping errors when administering federal job training grants from October 2008 to the end of 2011. The DOL's OIG is recommending the feds try and recoup $8.8 million in "questioned costs" DOES "improperly charged" the federal government.

Some of the problems the audit found include DOES overcharging by $5 million because it relied on estimated budgets, rather than actual ones; not having adequate paperwork to support 49 out of 84 adjustments to federal grants; and not submitting "any of its 54" federal federal financial reports on time in September of 2011.

The audit found problems with CFO's Nat Gandhi's office, which handles accounting for DOES' "financial activities and reporting." The audit found that some of Gandhi's employees had "improperly charged" the feds for work on administering the grants.

The problems span both former Mayor Adrian Fenty and Mayor Vince Gray's administration. Earlier this week, LL reported that DOES is investigating a job-training program whose participants say they are being sent to the city's museums rather than receiving any usable training.

Spokeswomen for both DOES and the OCFO did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But part of the OIG's report includes a March 21 letter from DOES Director Lisa Mallory accepting the audit's findings. Mallory says  that the lack of supporting paperwork as well as "staff turnover and the resultant loss of institutional memory" were factors that "played a critical role in the acceptance of these findings." Mallory said DOES has worked with the OCFO to implement "strategic reforms" that should avert similar problems in the future.

You can read the audit here.

  • michaeliceman

    You say problems in Nat Gandhi's office? NOOOOOOOO. That can't be true! That's never happened before. When does he "retire" again?

  • Willie Neckbone

    As a contractor during that time I must agree that Fenty was gutting the DOES and replacing people who had long standing expertise with his people who got replaced over and over because they were incompetent and didn't know what the hell was going on. As far as I am concerned, he purposely destroyed the local led infrastructure as part of the takeover of DC. Unfortunately, our mulatto brothers, Williams / Fenty / Gray (see Clinton/Bush/Obama) are totally bought and purchased mentally and maybe physically by those who are in the process of taking over this city.

  • drez

    ^ Right... DOES was a paragon of efficiency before Williams, Fenty, and Gray.
    The truth is that making money off the disadvantaged is big money in this town. From Harry "Fuck the Kids" Thomas Jr, to Jeffery Thompson, to Barbara Bollock, to Kelly Thompson. The list goes on and on.

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  • management 101

    a common theme with post-Congress-cares District problems is the winner-take-all nature of it's politics. There's no local-state separation of powers - it's all 'one district', and the winner gets to employ all his friends, lovers, and patrons.

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  • An Inside Observor

    Let’s specifically clarify just what time frame this review involves, what it covers, and the central reasons for the agency’s problems. The audit for all 49 United States Dept. of Labor (USDOL) Employment and Training Administration (ETA) grants to the District of Columbia Dept. of Employment Services (DOES) covered Fiscal Year 2009 (10/01/2008-09/31/2009), Fiscal Year 2010 (10/01/10-09/31/2011), Fiscal Year 2011 (10/01/2010-09/31/2011), and the entire first quarter of Fiscal Year 2012 (10/01/2011-12/31/2011). Fiscal Year 2012 ended September 31, 2012 and the agency is currently in the seventh month out of twelve for Fiscal Year 13 (10/01/2012-09.31.2013). So between FY2009 thru the first quarter of FY2012, ETA audited all 49 ETA grants awarded to the DC DOES that totaled $89 million with agency reported expenditures of $63,699,605. For the full audit discussion, read the 41 page report.

    This audit looked at costs charged for DC DOES employees for most of FY2012 (October 1, 2011 through August 25, 2012). The auditor examined a sample of 532 expenditures totaling $25,449,644. The point I want to make is that Lisa Maria Mallory (LMM) was the DOES Director during this entire cost-charged review period of time. She became the Director on April 1, 2011, as the result of a coup involving Rochelle Webb (DOES Director for less than three months -mid-January 2011 to April 1, 2011). Prior to April 1, 2011, Lisa Maria Mallory was the Chief Operating Officer at DOES. She came on board with DOES during the Fenty Administration. In the opinion of many, she is DOES Director because of contacts and her “personal appeal.” She had no substantive workforce development experience; furthermore, from observations, she does not have a deep interest in the workforce field or true sensitivity or attachment to the vulnerable DC residents who are most in need of DOES services. In the opinion of many, her appointment to DOES is due to “who she knows” and is merely convenient to her financial bottom line. Mayor Gray and the DC Council (Councilmembers Michael A. Brown, McDuffie, and now Marion Barry) have all given her a pass despite evidence to the contrary that she is part of the problem at DOES.

    The idea that she merely inherited a mess is a misnomer; more accurately, she is a main part of the source or contributing factor for the current DOES failure(s). Her leadership style fails to support the efforts of the DOES workforce to do their best work. The agency under her leadership takes a short-term “get tough” mindset that favors rapid shocks over the slower, more difficult (but more powerful) work of developing and communicating a strategy and harnessing the talent and creativity of committed, engaged employees to implement it. Sure, this shock style, negative management style may boost a type of short -term result, but it lays waste to the value of human capital, initiative, and commitment. This idea that employees are disposable as opposed to indispensable is the main theme on the 5th floor of the DOES admin building. This is evidenced by the way employees are treated and routinely fired and replaced. The 5th floor is where the Director and her crew are located and where she and her crew talk negatively about DOES employees while exalting their self-delusional knowledge and effectiveness. LMM and crew: Stress the workforce out as much as possible to achieve better results; this is the central theme of this Gray-Mallory agenda for DOES. Boosting the DOES workforce’s satisfaction will make them lazy. Of course, the huge body of research provides evidence to the contrary.
    It is a known fact that the higher one goes up in an organization, the more self-delusional one becomes. To stay in touch with the truth, a leader must be aggressive in staying in touch with the truth and one must listen genuinely to the other side. One must create an atmosphere where others can relate the truth and engage in productive debriefings. Of course this takes a mature, experienced, non-hysterical leader. This is not in evidence at DOES. The agency is in such a mess now that LMM now states publicly that she needs the experience, knowledge, and memory of those who have been run out of or dispirited by the agency. Instead of trying to destroy the union, work with it. Instead of having the new kids on the block substitute their knowledge for seasoned managers, let those who have run programs and have the experience and institutional knowledge do their thing.

    The income gap between the rich and the poor will lead to social upheaval. This fact is globally apparent. The graduation rate between those with means and those without has increased. DOES is important in these fights, but instead of being visionary in its approaches and committed to its mission – the leadership wastes its energies and the taxpayers money in selfish, non-productive and destructive behaviors. The agency’s failures are becoming more and more apparent. A cancer within eventually kills the body. DOES needs competent, experienced, visionary, and sensitive leadership. What it has now is an enormous group (and increasing) of administrative staff eating up taxpayer funds. The Mayor needs to cease having a tin ear and a blind eye. Mr. Mayor, get an experienced, visionary, and sensitive Director for DOES. Otherwise, if the true agenda is outsourcing DOES, you are well on your way. Message to USDOL: take DOES over quick before further deterioration occurs. If you hurry, you might be able to revive the patient and save the children.