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State jobs panel not doing its job, auditor says

A state board charged with helping the unemployed find jobs and providing vocational training hasn’t complied with state and federal laws and has failed to develop a required strategic workforce plan for California, according to the state auditor’s office.

The California Workforce Investment Board also missed half a dozen opportunities to receive at least $10.5 million in federal funding at a time when the state was suffering from extremely high unemployment during the recession of 2007-09, auditors said.

The money could have been used by the state’s 49 local job centers to help the unemployed, Auditor Elaine Howle said in a report released Tuesday.

The state board, though legally required to have a majority of members from the business sector, put business representatives in only 38% of its slots, the report said.

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The lack of a strategic plan, which should have been in place by 2006, was detrimental to the state’s economic development, auditors said.

“Without a strategic workforce plan, the state cannot ensure that its workforce investment system provides life-long learning for all Californians, promotes self-sufficiency, links education and training to economic development and prepares California to compete successfully in the global economy as the Legislature intended,” the audit said.

The administration of Gov. Jerry Brown did not disagree with the auditor’s findings.

Marty Morgenstern, Brown’s labor secretary, wrote Howle that he plans to put more business members on the board. In its own letter, the Workforce Investment Board said that it will complete a strategic plan over the next few months.

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