Councilmember Silverman Responds to D.C. Auditor Reports on Ineffectiveness of D.C. First Source Law

D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), who serves as chairman of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, issued the following statement in response to D.C. Auditor reports released this morning that detail inadequate compliance and enforcement of the District’s First Source Hiring Law by the D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES):

First Source was put in place to make sure that when District tax dollars fund projects, District residents benefit by getting a first shot at the new jobs created. Today’s reports from the D.C. Auditor show why many residents see cranes in their neighborhood but don’t see themselves or their neighbors getting employment out of it: Our government has never properly implemented the law since its inception in 1984. It’s amazing to think that First Source has been cited for decades as a key part of our strategy to provide job opportunities and reduce unemployment, yet until a few months ago the program lacked any formal or informal written monitoring policies or procedures.

We have to get First Source right—that means making sure the law works effectively, is enforced properly, and provides real benefits to District residents and taxpayers.

At a performance oversight hearing on the Department of Employment Services last month, I asked questions and expressed serious concerns about First Source compliance, documentation, and enforcement. I will continue oversight of the program at tomorrow’s hearing on the DOES budget and expect to hold a roundtable on the Auditor’s reports soon. I was encouraged that the agency agreed with some of the Auditor’s findings, and I look forward to working with DOES Interim Director Unique Morris-Hughes to address these shortcomings and implement recommendations.

I thank D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson and her staff for conducting this important evaluation and compiling these reports, including a section on best practices from other jurisdictions. Closing the income and opportunity gaps in our city by leveraging programs like First Source to get our residents into living-wage, full-time employment is a shared priority for the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, the D.C. Council, and Mayor Bowser.