The Obama administration spent more than $300 million to retrain workers to work in the clean energy industry, but few who went through the training got or kept jobs for any period of time.
More than three years after the 2009 stimulus law was enacted, President Barack Obama's $500 million green jobs program is still falling far short of its goals, the Labor Department's inspector general concludes.
An audit found that as of last June 30, a total of more than 81,000 workers and unemployed job seekers had completed training under the program, at a cost of about $328 million. But auditors found that only 38 percent, some 30,857, had gotten new jobs or kept jobs with their employers.
Of those workers, the 97 training programs that got money from the program could only document 11,613 who had held those jobs for six months or more, a rate of just 16 percent compared to the more than 71,000 the government expected would keep the jobs that long.
The statistics were even lower for eight programs auditors examined in greater detail. After getting more than $32 million, those programs were only able to place about 2,325 workers.
Those detailed reviews also found that none of 81 employed workers who got training actually needed green skills to meet the program's goals of getting full-time jobs, keep their current jobs, or advance their career with the same employer.
In the audit report, Assistant Inspector General for Audit Elliot P. Lewis also noted that the eight programs failed to document between 24 percent and 44 percent of the results they reported to the government, complicating efforts to determine whether they met the goals of the program.
The department's Employment and Training Administration said it would evaluate the results after the program after all funding was spent by a deadline of September, 2013.
Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training, defended the grants in a letter to Lewis. "The grants are smart investments that are preparing Americans for the clean energy jobs driving our 21st Century economy," she wrote.
Oates stressed that job placements and job retention numbers would rise as nearly half the programs getting money were still active. She also said that Lewis failed to take into account written results reports from the programs that could have affected the audit's findings.
"The data presented in the OIG report therefore provides an incomplete view of individual grantee performance and impact," she wrote.
The audit was requested by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
It is the second audit of the green jobs program conducted by the department's inspector general, following one issued in September of last year that was requested by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
That report warned that training programs were falling behind in meeting spending and job placement goals before their grant periods ended.
The full report can be seen here.