Auditors suggest state take over workforce program | NevadaAppeal.com

Auditors suggest state take over workforce program

Auditors say the Southern Nevada workforce investment board spent twice as much of its federal grant money on administration as its northern counterpart.

Executive Audit Division chief Steve Weinberger told the audit committee headed by Gov. Brian Sandoval that the board should be ordered to dramatically reduce its overhead so that more money goes into workforce development programs or that the state should take over operation of both the northern and southern boards and eliminate that administrative expense.

He said that the primary reason appears to be that salaries for the more than 30 southern program employees are more than 20 percent higher than those paid to their northern counterparts. As a result, 21 percent of the money in the south goes to administration compared with 11.3 percent in the northern program. In the proposed budget for the coming year, he said, the southern board’s administrative costs would rise to about 30 percent of total funding.

Sandoval pointed out that eight employees at the southern board were making more than $100,000 a year with two more making more than $90,000.

The workforce investment boards use federal Labor Department money to help eligible adults and dislocated workers get jobs by providing training and employment readiness skills. In fiscal 2011, the program received $29.5 million and served more than 26,000 participants.

Weinberger said that directing the southern board to cut administrative costs to match the northern board would free up $1.9 million for participants in the program. He and Frank Woodbeck, director of the Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation, said that eliminating the two local boards and having the state run the programs directly would free up nearly $6 million a year to help participants get jobs.

Ardell Galbreth, who has been interim director of the southern operation for about a month, told the audit committee that he has already made dramatic changes, cutting staff by more than half.

“It did not take me days or weeks to determine we had non-essential staff,” he said.

Woodbeck said that he will ask the labor department for permission to eliminate the local boards and take over operation of the program at the state level. He said state employees would then work directly with program contractors who provide training and other services.

At present, the state’s administrative costs are less than 10 percent, according to the audit.

“It eliminates a layer of administration,” he said adding that he hopes to have federal authorization by Sept. 30.