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Report: Job agency's success an illusion

Sloppy records and doctored documents may have led to as much as $1.4-million in overcharges.

By Associated Press
Published February 1, 2004

TALLAHASSEE - The nation's largest for-profit workforce provider, which covers half of Florida, may have received more than $1-million in unearned government bonuses because of doctored documents and sloppy record keeping, according to a state Department of Labor report.

The report released Friday confirms a Miami-Dade County audit last year, which found that Affiliated Computer Services Inc. of Dallas overestimated the number of workers it served, inflated the salaries workers received and hid workers' real earnings.

The report suggests the company may have received as much as $1.4-million it did not deserve. The Securities and Exchange Commission has requested detailed contract information from Miami-Dade's labor agency, and the U.S. Department of Labor is also investigating ACS contracts.

Though the 92-page report to the state's Agency for Workforce Innovation found "improper" lobbying in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, poorly maintained client files and discrepancies or falsifications in the firm's information, there were no allegations of fraud.

Gerald Miller, ACS's managing director for workforce and community solutions, said four high-level workers in South Florida have resigned, and the company is reviewing its procedures.

"The report confirms what we knew all along, that there was no evidence of fraud," Miller said. "There's clearly evidence of sloppiness, and I'm extremely disappointed with members of my team."

ACS, one of a number of private companies that lined up for government labor contracts after the welfare reforms of the 1990s, plans to respond to the audit within 30 days, he said.

The state report was requested by Curtis Austin, executive director of Workforce Florida, an organization that serves as a liaison between the state and county labor boards that contract firms such as ACS. Austin said officials remain suspicious of the situation.

"There is no evidence of widespread, systemic fraud that was taught by the company, and that's good," he said. "But as for fraud in some specific areas, like Miami-Dade, I haven't ruled that out."

The Miami-Dade audit came last year after ACS started reporting higher-than average job placement rates. Officials found ACS was falsely claiming it had helped place some new hires. Mediation will determine how much money the firm must repay the county labor board after the U.S. Department of Labor completes its investigation.

[Last modified February 1, 2004, 01:45:59]


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