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Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan May 16, 2012

Mitt Romney said there are "49 different federal job training programs that report to eight agencies"

During a campaign stop in St. Petersburg on May 16, 2012, Mitt Romney said he intended to make government work better and save money in the process.

As an example, he cited the federal government’s efforts to provide job training.

"Do you know how many federal job training programs there are? 49 different federal job training programs that report to eight agencies," he said.

Romney said he would look to consolidate programs and send them to the states.

"I want to take those dollars, put them together and give them to the state of Florida and say, ‘You create the program that’s best for your own people, that puts people to work.’ "

We had never heard that there were "49 different federal jobs programs," so we decided to check it out.

Our research eventually led us to independent reports from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a respected independent agency that investigates how the federal government spends money. The Romney campaign pointed us to the GAO as well.

The agency conducted a thorough study on job training programs run by the federal government and published its findings in 2011. (The report studied fiscal year 2009.) The GAO concluded that the federal government had 47 programs run by nine different agencies, numbers very close to what Romney said.

In later reports, the agency recommended that Congress look into streamlining the programs by combining administrative functions and locating different programs together at a single site.

The GAO also noted that more information is needed to measure the true effectiveness of the programs.

"Almost all of the 47 programs tracked multiple outcome measures related to employment and training, and the most frequently tracked outcome measure was ‘entered employment,’ " the agency stated. "However, little is known about the effectiveness of employment and training programs because, since 2004, only five reported conducting an impact study, and about half of all the remaining programs have not had a performance review of any kind."

We should note that 47 programs sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t necessarily mean programs can be combined. It might not make sense, for example, to combine the "Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program" with the "Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Program," or the "Native American Employment and Training Program" with the "National Guard Youth Challenge Program."

Finally, the 47 programs are not equal in size or scope. The GAO reported that seven programs accounted for 75 percent of the $18 billion spent on job training, while two programs ("Wagner- Peyser funded Employment Service" and "Workforce Investment Act Adult") served about 77 percent of all participants.

Our ruling

Romney said that there are "49 different federal job training programs that report to eight agencies." The most recent comprehensive report we found on the matter found 47 job training programs under nine agencies. Also, a smaller subset of agencies account for a majority of spending on job training and number of people served. We rate Romney’s statement Mostly True.


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Update: This report has been updated to include a response we received from the Romney campaign. 

Our Sources

PolitiFact Florida, remarks by Mitt Romney at a campaign event, May 16, 2012

U.S. Government Accountability Office, Multiple Employment and Training Programs: Providing Information on Colocating Services and Consolidating Administrative Structures Could Promote Efficiencies, January 13, 2011

U.S. Government Accountability Office, Providing Information on Colocating Services and Consolidating Administrative Structures, May 11, 2011

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, "Help Wanted: How Federal Job Training Programs are Failing Workers," February 2011

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, New GAO Report Exposes More Duplication & Overlap in the Federal Government, Feb. 28, 2012

Interview with Becky Bernhardt of U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn’s office, May 16, 2012

Email interview with Clark Stevens of the White House, May 16, 2012

Email interview with Ryan Williams of the Mitt Romney campaign, May 16, 2012

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Mitt Romney said there are "49 different federal job training programs that report to eight agencies"

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