In August, one of the federal government's watchdog agencies released an investigative report critical of the for-profit higher-education industry. The industry may be abusing federal student loan programs, the report suggested. But the agency, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, made several revisions to its report this month, and now six members of Congress are questioning why it did so.
The congressmen say they want to know whether the revisions undermine the original report. In a four-page letter (PDF) to the agency released today, they ask whether the GAO’s Office of the General Counsel has investigated the need to revise the August report.
“At this time, we wish to learn how this incident occurred and what steps are being implemented to prevent it from happening in the future,” the letter reads. “We are also interested in knowing what disciplinary action, if any, GAO is considering.”
The GAO report is important because it helped to fuel a proposed overhaul of the industry, which encompasses companies such as the University of Phoenix and Kaplan Higher Education; the Obama administration, concerned about the industry’s use of publicly subsidized student loans, is considering new regulations. The GAO report also gave ammunition to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who is conducting his own investigation of the industry.
(Click here for a Sept. 27 story in The National Law Journal on the industry boosting its legal and lobbying muscle.)
GAO spokesman Chuck Young said the agency has received the letter from Congress and is trying to set up a meeting. “We plan to provide the Members with the information they are seeking,” Young wrote in an e-mail.
The six congressmen critical of the GAO include four Republicans and two Democrats. One of them is Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who in January is set to become chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.