A since-abandoned plan to close some Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers lacked transparency, GAO has said.
The centers offer services designed to help low-income youth obtain the necessary skills to find a job, go to college, or enter military service.
While the Labor Department oversees the program in general, USDA’s Forest Service operates those centers.
USDA and Labor announced a plan to close some centers and transfer operations of others in May 2019, with the former saying the program is not a good programmatic fit and the latter citing low performance of some of the targeted centers.
However, like several of the Trump administration’s agency reorganization plans, the bid quickly ran into opposition and criticism. It soon was dropped, although GAO nonetheless was tasked with reviewing the process.
The report said that Labor “used a new criterion focused on reforming and streamlining operations to propose” closing nine of the 24 centers and that while Labor requested comments on the closings in general, it did not solicit comments on that criterion.
The department considered student access, performance, and cost in center closure selections “but did not provide the details of the methodology it used to propose centers for closure, such has how performance was calculated” even though federal control standards “direct agencies to communicate quality information externally,” it added.
In response, Labor “stated that the level of information it included in notices for public comment concerning such matters complied with requirements and provided a meaningful opportunity for public comment, and it did not indicate that it would provide more detailed information in the future,” the report said.