(WASHINGTON, D.C.) –A new GAO study has found that the Bush Administration’s delinquency in releasing worker training grants has caused states to cancel worker training programs. These delays hurt both employers who are seeking skilled workers to fill jobs and employees who have been dislocated by the sluggish economy. The GAO report, requested by Senators Patty Murray and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) found that nearly 90 percent of Department of Labor grant awards took longer than 30 days to process, and nearly half (46 percent) took three months or longer.

Under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, the Department of Labor is responsible for awarding national emergency grants to affected states and localities. These grants support employment and training assistance to workers affected by major economic dislocations, such as plant closures, and major disasters, such as floods and hurricanes.

Yet the GAO found that:

  • Twenty-five states reported that localities had to delay or deny services to dislocated workers because of Bush Administration delays.
  • Nearly 90 percent of regular grant awards took longer than the Labor Department’s goal of 30 days and 46 percent took 90 days or more
  • Thirty-three states said delays in grant awards were a “major” or “very major” problem, and 25 states reported that they had to deny or delay services to workers due to delays in receiving funds.

Murray said:

“From coast to coast, America’s workers have been hit hard by the recession that began in March, 2001. Yet this GAO study finds the Bush Administration derelict in its duty to help unemployed Americans retrain for new jobs.

The Administration has shown a troubling disregard for the workers who have been hardest hit by the recent recession. Seventy percent of states reported that the Administration’s delinquency is a “very major problem” and have been forced to delay or deny services for dislocated workers.

Not only is the Administration’s delinquency hurting workers, but it is hurting employers and the economy as well. Employers need to find skilled workers to fill the jobs that are available. But by delaying worker training grants, this Administration is creating a further drag on our economy.

Despite its problems with worker retraining, this Administration seems unwilling to provide additional unemployment assistance to help workers pay their mortgages and put food on the table for their families while they wait for a retraining grant.

Any doubt that the Administration is not paying attention to the needs of average Americans has been erased by this independent study.”

Senator Murray is the senior Democrat on the HELP Subcommittee on Employment, Safety and Training.

GAO Report