Bias, misleading facts and the Government Accountability Office report
In the face of mounting Congressional scrutiny over the biased nature of the original report the GAO completed an internal review in an effort to determine what led to the flawed report. As a result of the internal review GAO demoted the top official in charge of the creation of the report and significantly restructured the unit responsible for the report.
On May 17, 2011 an internal GAO memo was released providing further evidence that the GAO not only mishandled its August 2010 report critical of career colleges but the agency knowingly and deliberately bowed to political pressure from Senator Harkin and Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee staff members, resulting in an inaccurate and biased report.
The GAO still stands by the report.
- 16 out of 28 "scenarios" were revised - in all cases the original examples were shaded against the colleges
- The issuance of a revised GAO report is extremely rare. Out of over 1,000 reports issued in the past year only 16 were later revised.
- The GAO's own internal investigation found significant flaws in the creation of the report - so much so that the agency demoted the senior official responsible for the creation of the report and the unit tasked with its development.
- An internal GAO memo released by Sen. Harkin's office further details the significant mishandling of the report but confirms the agency knowingly and deliberately bowed to political pressure from Senator Harkin and Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee staff members.
- House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman John Kline, joined by a bipartisan group of Members of Congress, wrote to GAO raising serious questions as to the "conclusions and objectivity" of the report and seeking additional information related to the issuance of a revised version.
- Senator Enzi, ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee, has written to the GAO Comptroller expressing deep concern to the GAO about the biased process and questionable report that was produced. Sen. Enzi has also asked for the release of all written correspondence, email or otherwise regarding the decision to issue a revised report.
- Bi-partisan calls from members of Congress have urged the GAO and Department of Education to a step back and re-examine the flawed process that produced the flawed gainful employment rules.
- The Coalition for Educational Success has called upon Senator Harkin to release the full communications between his office, the GAO and the Department of Education concerning the report. To date the complete the GAO has yet to release the full set of recordings, including schools not mentioned in the original report.
Despite the issuance of an amended version the initial report unfairly mischaracterized the nature and extent of recruiting abuses at for-profit schools. Much of the public debate has been based upon a GAO study of questionable integrity that did not include a scientific sampling of schools. Secretary Duncan has also used the deeply flawed study to justify proposed "gainful employment" rules.