NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Time To Do Away With Americorps

December 31, 1998

Critics call the 4-year-old AmeriCorps program a financial, bureaucratic and political mess. Indeed, they say any program that relies on "paid volunteers" exhibits a confusion of purpose.

AmeriCorps is a national service program in which each volunteer gets a $4,725 education voucher and a living allowance averaging $7,200 in exchange for 1,700 hours of service over a 10-month period. Members perform a variety of what are supposed to be public services, but critics charge the tasks are frequently left-wing and political in nature. Also, by some estimates, the cost to federal, state and local taxpayers for 1994 and 1995 averaged about $26,000 per participant.

  • Independent auditors report that the books for AmeriCorps for fiscal years 1994 to 1997 were "unauditable."
  • Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Government Oversight and Investigations, charges that there is no way to get reliable data about AmeriCorps or detect possible fraud -- and calls the Corporation for National Service, the agency that oversees AmeriCorps, "nothing more than a huge government bureaucracy seeking new ways to spend taxpayer money."
  • Among their activities, AmeriCorps members have participated in rallies for congressional Democrats, handed out political literature, attended Earth Day rallies, and aided the Environmental Protection Agency's "environmental justice" campaign.
  • The organization has given $400,000 to the Human Resources Development Institute, an AFL-CIO subsidiary, and a similar sum to the National Multicultural Institute to conduct diversity training.

With billions of dollars in public and private assistance already available to college students and limitless opportunities for true volunteerism, analysts wonder why AmeriCorps even exists.

Source: Michael Chapman, "AmeriCorps: Ruining Volunteerism," Investor's Business Daily, December 31, 1998.


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