Evidence suggests fraud in city jobs program



ATLANTA - The Atlanta City Auditor confirmed to Channel 2 Action News that she turned over evidence of potential fraud at Mayor Kasim Reed's jobs program to a federal agency.

Leslie Ward, the city auditor, said she turned the information over about the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, or AWDA, to the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Labor.

The OIG conducts investigations around the country, looking into criminal wrongdoing by agencies that receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Labor.

An OIG spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny that there is an investigation.

The audit, released in January, recommended that the city consider shutting down the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency. The agency is tasked with training and providing help to residents seeking jobs.

The audit cites poor job tracking of workers and employers, incomplete records and inadequate oversight of personally identifiable information maintained by the agency.

The report also noted that more than half of the agency's clients reside outside city limits.

"We are very concerned about the audit; they raised some very serious issues," Atlanta council member Michael Julian Bond told Channel 2's Rachel Stockman.

"We omitted specific information from this report related to indications of potential fraud and/or abuse so as not to interfere with a potential investigation," the report said.

Ward would not comment on the specifics of the potential  fraud but did confirm the information was turned over to a federal agency.

"I am concerned because if the auditor has found things that are that serious that they (the OIG) have to take a look at them, we need to take a look, as well," Bond said.

"The city is not aware of any investigation. We've not been contacted by anyone," Sonji Jacobs Dade, spokeswoman for the mayor said.

Dade added that Invest Atlanta has procured a consultant, and the city is moving forward with a developing a strategic plan for workforce development and improving services.

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