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AmeriCorps’ Legacy: Waste, Fraud, and Abuse

Ask any emergency dispatch team to describe five-alarm fires, and they will likely say they’re rare and catastrophic no matter where they occur. AmeriCorps is a five-alarm fire of its own making. If you don’t believe us, feel free to peruse the latest Management Challenges report issued on November 15th by the AmeriCorps Office of Inspector General. What you’ll find is 26 pages chock full of rot and dysfunction.

According to the report, the agency failed to “demonstrate adequate knowledge and understanding of Federal accounting standards and financial reporting requirements, and effective financial management practices.” Financial mismanagement and incompetency are nothing new for AmeriCorps – this has been a problem for decades.

Unmitigated fraud bedevils the agency. The report cites the most prevalent fraud at AmeriCorps to be “falsified or otherwise non-compliant timesheets.” That’s right, volunteers and even the agency’s own members are siphoning off money and making off like robber barons by falsifying their own hours. In two separate cases, AmeriCorps programs at universities in North Carolina submitted falsified timesheets that alleged members worked excessive hours on weekends and holidays. The report also outlines the lack of oversight in the agency’s grant programs, which has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars due to schemes orchestrated by recipients. AmeriCorps has brought in contractors supposedly to help with their management problems but has no guarantees any positive changes will last when these temporary workers leave.

Here’s the bottom line: AmeriCorps has always been a lost cause. This report adds another chapter to its history of underperformance, waste, fraud, and abuse. Its troubled relationships with accountability and oversight have been laid bare for everyone to see time and time again. President Biden deciding to prop up yet another AmeriCorps program through his “American Climate Corps” plan is the exact opposite of reform. The agency, like many others in the federal government, has proven time and time again that it is incapable of reforming itself, is stealing from hardworking taxpayers, and needs to be shuttered.


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