Controversial DOL Official DeRocco to Leave Post

By Staff Report

Dec. 20, 2007

Assistant Secretary of Labor Emily Stover DeRocco, who oversaw high-profile programs but also came under fire on matters including the closing of a public online job board, will leave her post in January.

DeRocco has served as U.S. assistant secretary of labor for employment and training for more than six years. During this time, her projects included improving community colleges, supporting talent development plans in regional economies and creating partnerships for the High Growth Job Training Initiative. The initiative is a program to prepare workers for jobs in high-growth, high-demand and economically vital industries, such as health care and advanced manufacturing.

“America’s workers and employers have had a steadfast friend in Emily Stover DeRocco, who always has understood that it is essential to prepare our workforce for the rewarding opportunities that lay ahead,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao said in a statement Thursday, December 20. “Emily transformed a $10 billion social services agency into an economic development driver actively working to enhance workers’ talents and prosperity.”

But there are questions about how well DeRocco managed her substantial budget at the Employment and Training Administration. In a report published in November, the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General found that ETA did not adequately justify decisions to give out non-competitive awards for the High Growth Job Training Initiative. The Office of Inspector General examined 39 non-competitive awards and concluded that “ETA could not demonstrate that it followed proper procurement procedures” in 35 of them. Those 35 awards totaled $57 million.

The report says DeRocco “strongly disagreed” with findings related to the procurement practices used for noncompetitive grants.

The November inspector general report isn’t the only time DeRocco has landed in hot water. A 2005 inspector general report about the award of National Emergency Grant funds found that ETA was inconsistent in applying federal procurement rules and regulations with which the department was responsible for ensuring compliance.

DeRocco also was criticized for ETA’s move earlier this year to shutter America’s Job Bank, a public online job board. The Labor Department cited outdated technology and claimed that America’s Job Bank duplicated what was already available in the private sector. But the department declined to make public any comprehensive study weighing the pros and cons of America’s Job Bank and justifying the decision to close it, even though a good deal of evidence argued for the site’s preservation.

DeRocco represented the U.S. in numerous international forums, and was named to and led boards and commissions in areas ranging from the future of the aerospace industry to the aging of the American workforce, the Labor Department said in a press release Thursday.

Prior to her appointment at the U.S. Department of Labor, she served 11 years as executive director and COO of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, a group of state administrators.

“The impacts of globalization and technology have made this period in our history one in which development of a more highly educated and skilled American worker is critical to the nation’s competitiveness in the world economy,” DeRocco said in a statement.

“It has been a privilege and an honor to serve the American people under President Bush’s and Secretary Chao’s leadership,” she added.

—Ed Frauenheim

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