Reforming First Source: Strengthening the Link Between Economic Development and Jobs

This policy brief was developed as a joint project whose contributors included staff from the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development, DC Appleseed, DC Employment Justice Center, DC Fiscal Policy Institute, DC Jobs Council, Greater Washington Research at Brookings, Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative, and LISC.

The District’s First Source law is designed to leverage the city’s spending on contracts and projects to create more jobs for residents, but evidence shows it has been largely ineffective. A recent report by the DC Auditor concluded DC’s First Source program has been hampered by a lack of compliance and oversight, resulting in the estimated loss of hundreds of jobs and millions in revenue for the city. District leaders should take immediate steps to enforce the current law. However, a review of similar programs in other cities reveals the most successful have taken a more comprehensive approach to matching residents with employment by providing training and other skills that employers say are necessary for work.  This brief offers recommendations on how the District can improve First Source by creating a broker that coordinates First Source workforce development so that jobs created by public investment are more likely to be filled by city residents trained to take them.

Read the entire report here.

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