Fire the botched jobs program

San Francisco Budget Analyst Harvey Rose has issued dozens of hard-hitting reports on city spending waste through the years. But the latest effort from his independent office is among the most mind-boggling. Only a few numbers are necessary to paint a disturbing portrait of unchecked municipal bureaucracy at its most ineffective:

During the 2006-07 fiscal year, San Francisco spent $29.1 million on employment development programs done by 11 city departments, plus 59 community nonprofits, that received $15.4 million of the pot. So how many job seekers actually obtained employment as a result of this substantial public expenditure? Only 4,300.

Job-placement ratios for the various city-funded programs range from approximately 4 percent to 21 percent. San Francisco taxpayers paid $6,767 for each job obtained, and there is no reliable overall evidence — especially from the nonprofits — on how many of those jobs were supposedly permanent and self-sustaining.

The embarrassingly low number of jobs produced by the millions being spent should be blamed on a duplicative, inefficient employment development system that is “fragmented, with inconsistent planning and coordination of resources and inadequate monitoring of programs,” according to the budget analyst.

The City’s three one-stop job placement centers served 13,157 clients during the last fiscal year, but only 2,054 people, or 15.6 percent, actually found jobs. Even worse were results among the 3,412 clients under the age of 25; only 140 of the younger job-seekers, or 4.1 percent, got hired.

“It looks like there’s a lot of lip service being given, but no real product,” said Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who requested the audit.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi has introduced legislation to centralize all employment development efforts under one administration, the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said he agrees generally with the Mirkarimi legislation, but prefers to implement the changes by executive order. The mayor acknowledged that the jobs program needs improvement and said he has directed city officials to prepare a better plan. Newsom claimed to have a draft of a “new approach” to be announced at some unspecified future time, which unfortunately makes us suspect that little planning has been accomplished.

Stopping the useless spending right now is politically unrealistic. So obviously the first step in cleaning up San Francisco’s employment development mess must be to combine all operations under one office, instead of continuing to allow uncoordinated little programs to proliferate throughout The City. But centralization without true accountability is pointless.

There must be a firm, rational deadline for proving municipal job placement help actually puts substantial numbers of applicants to work. If The City cannot deliver solid evidence of success by the end of one or two years, the jobs program should be fired and its millions should be transferred to something that genuinely accomplishes a public good.

General OpinionOpinion

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Demonstrators commemorated the life of George Floyd and others killed by police outside S.F. City Hall on June 1, 2020.<ins></ins>
Chauvin verdict: SF reacts after jury finds ex-officer guilty on all charges

San Franciscans were relieved Tuesday after jurors found a former Minneapolis police… Continue reading

San Francisco Unified School District Board member Faauuga Moliga, right, pictured with Superintendent Vincent Matthews on the first day back to classrooms, will be board vice president for the remander of the 2121 term. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Faauuga Moliga named as school board vice president to replace Alison Collins

The San Francisco school board on Tuesday selected board member Fauuga Moliga… Continue reading

Legislation by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman would require The City to add enough new safe camping sites, such as this one at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin, to accomodate everyone living on the street. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City would create sites for hundreds of tents under new homeless shelter proposal

Advocates say funding better spent on permanent housing

An instructor at Sava Pool teaches children drowning prevention techniques. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Indoor city pools reopen for lap swimming and safety classes

Two of San Francisco’s indoor city pools reopened Tuesday, marking another step… Continue reading

A construction worker rides on top of materials being transported out of the Twin Peaks Tunnel as work continues at West Portal Station on Thursday, August 16, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA’s poor track record on capital projects risks losing ‘public trust’

Supervisors say cost overruns and delays could jeapordize future ballot revenue measures

Most Read