Friday, September 24, 2010
WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley is asking the Labor Department to justify how it counts arbitrators, mediators, conciliators, financial analysts, investment underwriters, marketing managers, personal financial advisers, public relations specialists, and reporters in its definition of what is a green job.
Grassley said the Labor Department is apparently allowing stimulus dollars that were supposed to support green jobs to be spent on these sorts of positions. The Labor Department also administers the spending of $125 million a year on "energy efficiency and renewable energy" worker retraining through the Green Jobs Act of 2007. That law specifies that federal dollars will support retrofitting buildings, biofuels and wind turbines.
"I'm a strong supporter of green jobs, and taxpayers deserve an honest reporting of how their money is being spent. This kind of work is not what most people would think of as green jobs," Grassley said. "It's a matter of responsible stewardship of tax dollars. Since February 2009, the Department of Labor has given out $490 million in stimulus dollars for 'green jobs training,' and the Department tells me that it's still working to define green jobs."
Grassley began pressing the Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, for information about how the administration defines a green job in June. In response, an assistant secretary said that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is "working to develop a definition for green jobs sectors and jobs" and directed Grassley to the Occupational Information Network of the Labor Department, or O*NET. O*NET listed jobs that could be classified as green, including those now in question.
Grassley followed up on his initial inquiry in a letter sent today which asks the Secretary of Labor what changes, if any, are being made to the stimulus spending program at the Department of Labor to make sure tax dollars aren't squandered on jobs that aren't really green and on programs that produce few employment results. Grassley's June letter and the Labor Department's response are attached to today's letter.
Grassley is conducting congressional oversight of stimulus spending by various federal agencies, including the Department of Energy and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The stimulus bill enacted in February 2009 has an $814 billion price tag. Grassley did not vote for the measure.