Taxpayer Funds Paid for Bonuses, Casino Trips

generic slot machine
generic slot machine
CBS

WASHINGTON - House Republicans Wednesday rolled out $35 billion dollars worth of proposed cuts in the budget for this year, including $2 billion slashed from job-training programs.

(Scroll down to watch a video of this report)

Taxpayers spend $18 billion a year on them, but government investigations are questioning whether all that money is doing much good, CBS News Investigative Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports.

Ramona Cunningham headed a job training program in Iowa, but it turns out she was moonlighting on the dark side as a ringleader in a fraud and corruption scheme. She used taxpayer money on $1.5 million in illegal bonuses for herself and others. They took a hundred trips to casinos, usually during work hours.

Abuses like that are why two government reports out Wednesday hone in on all the tax money devoted to training people for jobs.

Read the GAO Report (PDF)

The General Accounting Office found $18 billion in taxpayer money a year are going to not one but 47 different federal job training programs, almost all of them overlapping to serve the same people.

Nobody can say how well they work. Only five have ever been studied to see if trainees got more jobs than anyone else.

"Shouldn't Congress know if they're going to spend $18 billion whether it's working?" Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., asked.

The Labor Department, in charge of 21 different employment training programs, said it serves diverse groups and that fewer programs wouldn't necessarily be better or more efficient.

But Coburn said the bureaucracy leaves too much room for abuse. He issued his own report, calling it "Help Wanted," exposing outrageous examples.

Read the Report from Coburn's Office (PDF)

In California, three men are under indictment for allegedly luring high-school kids into removing cancer-causing asbestos without proper protection, all under the guise of job training.

Mary Jane Bowling, once an executive at Workforce West Virginia, got caught illegally funneling $100,000 tax dollars to her son, Martin.

The stimulus law added $5 billion more to job training. Finding examples of waste wasn't hard. It's not so easy to find evidence the programs work well.

  • Sharyl Attkisson
    Sharyl Attkisson On Twitter»

    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.