Thursday, March 25, 1999

City & County of Honolulu

Job training firm
not fulfilling work,
some claim

The Department of Community
Services has made yet another bad
move, say members of the City
Council's Budget Committee

By Gordon Pang


City auditors are looking into claims that a private company did not perform job training under a contract with the Department of Community Services.

Abelina Shaw, director of community services, said the internal control branch of the Budget Department is checking complaints that WorkHawaii clients had not been trained by Paradigm Hawaii Inc.

Members of the City Council's Budget Committee said yesterday that the information is only the latest example of bad moves by the department.

The department's WorkHawaii program provides job training and consultation to out-of-work people seeking employment skills.

Paradigm Hawaii was paid to provide basic job training in math, reading and computer skills to WorkHawaii clients.

Rolanse Crisafulli of WorkHawaii said her own program has asked Paradigm to submit records showing documentation that clients attended classes.

Councilman Duke Bainum said he knows of at least one instance where someone did not get training.

Michael Hansen, internal control branch chief, declined comment.

Bainum also questioned why WorkHawaii is intending to hire 111 job resource specialists on a contract basis instead of getting nonprofit groups to handle more of the workload. The program has 60 such employees this year.

"We already have agencies out there providing this function," Bainum said, adding that it costs more for the city to hire its own trainers.

Budget Chairman John Henry Felix said, "We should act as a clearinghouse, not build a turgid bureaucracy based upon these federal dollars."

"It's far more beneficial, efficient and cost-effective to look to the not-for-profits who have the experience and expertise to carry out the mission," Felix said.

Bainum said he's also worried by reports that many of the contract hires, at the end of their terms, are being placed into civil service positions.

Shaw denied that practice is prevalent.

Bainum also criticized WorkHawaii for authorizing a contract hire to attend an economic development conference in Washington, D.C., shortly before he quit working for the city.

Another contract hire, Bainum said, has been working for the city since 1996, except for three months.

Contract hires are only supposed to work for a maximum of a year. The employee is also a full-time law student.

Bainum said he's worried that the problems that plague the department are jeopardizing federal funding, which makes up nearly all of the department's $61.3 million budget.

"These are precious programs," he said. "We've got to make sure that we're monitoring these programs very carefully."

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