D.C.’s government youth jobs boondoggle

Every government jobs training program is a boondoggle. It’s inevitable. See my post here for a brief, waste-clogged history of federal and local jobs initiatives that use taxpayer funds to redistribute unemployment.

The latest example comes from our nation’s capital, where they are paying youth jobs enrollees to go to the City Council…to lobby for more money for their program.


On Monday, District residents’ tax dollars went to pay Summer Youth Employment Program participants to attend a Council oversight session at which they lobbied for more funding for the program.

It’s just the latest outrage surrounding one of D.C.’s best-intentioned and worst-run programs.

SYEP, which hires about 20,000 D.C. youth for various minimum wage summer jobs, was budgeted at $22.7 million. But it’s already $11.5 million over budget — an overrun of 50 percent.

D.C. Auditor Deborah Nichols said Monday that “the lack of fiscal discipline in the design and execution [of SYEP] is irresponsible, poses a threat to other vital District programs and the District’s fiscal stability in these austere economic circumstances.” She said this year’s cost overruns are nothing new — SYEP overspent by more than $56 million over the past two years.

According to NBC Washington’s PJ Orvetti, Mayor Adrian Fenty plundered the city’s welfare and homeless funds to shore up the program. And instead of killing it, he wants to extend it an extra week:

Councilmember Michael Brown, who heads the committee that oversees SYEP, told WTOP last month, “We have questioned from time to time what the motives are. Is the motive to just have as many people signed up as possible so you can say you gave X amount of people a job for summer? Or is the purpose to give young folks experience to the work environment?”

Fenty communications director Mafara Hobson has said, “All we’re trying to do is give kids an opportunity to make additional money and have constructive activities leading up to school.” But Brown’s “X amount” has nearly tripled under Fenty, so it’s laughable to say there’s no politics at play.

The government cannot create jobs, it can only create payroll.

Put it on a bumper sticker and teach your children well.

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