NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 8, 1997

Official audits of the AmeriCorps Program -- a pet project of President Clinton's to pay volunteers for community services -- show it has been costly, inefficient and susceptible to political abuse. Yet, critics complain, the President is determined to increase its funding.

A General Accounting Office report in February found in a sample of two dozen projects funded for the 1994-95 fiscal year:

  • Nearly 40 percent of participants dropped out or were terminated.
  • Only 54 percent used their college tuition vouchers -- a benefit awarded all participants each year for two years and worth up to $4,725 each.
  • Projects registered high per-participant costs -- including one in Austin, Texas, where the cost for those who had completed the program exceeded $100,000 each.
  • In 1995, the GAO estimated annual spending per full-time "volunteer" participant at $26,654 -- including money from nonfederal sources.

A report issued last year by the Arthur Anderson accounting firm concluded the community service corporation's "internal controls were not adequate for an independent auditor to perform an effective financial statement audit in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards for fiscal years 1994 and 1995."

Clinton, nevertheless, wants to increase AmeriCorps' budget 38 percent -- from $215 million currently to $296 million, which does not include outlays for the educational vouchers. Voucher funding would increase from $59 million this year to $100 million next.

Source: Carl Horowitz, "Paying Americans to Volunteer," Investor's Business Daily, May 8, 1997.


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