Issa Probing For-Profit University Report

Posted December 28, 2010 at 12:28pm

Members weighed in on the ongoing controversy involving for-profit universities just before last week’s Christmas holiday, asking the federal government’s in-house investigators to detail why they made revisions to a recent report on the industry.

In a letter last week, incoming House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) asked Government Accountability Office Comptroller General Gene Dodaro to report what his agency has done about revisions to an August report.

The undercover investigation, which included 15 for-profit colleges in various states and Washington, D.C., probed the marketing practices of such institutions as Kaplan, a company that Senate records show has spent $420,000 on lobbying through Sept. 30.

Dodaro was confirmed by the Senate on Dec. 22. His office has until Jan. 3 to respond to Issa’s request.

“As the congressional watchdog, GAOs mission is to provide Congress with timely information that is objective, fact-based, nonpartisan, non-ideological, fair, and balanced,” Issa said in a Dec. 22 statement. “In the same manner that GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars, Congress is entitled to hold GAO to the highest standards of accountability, integrity, and reliability.”

The letter, sent Dec. 21, was also signed by Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) and Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.).

Earlier this month, the Washington Post and other media outlets reported that the GAO revised its findings of the undercover investigation, “softening” allegations of widespread misrepresentation to students by for-profit universities, which have generated them tidy sums in recent years from government-subsidized loan and grant programs.

In his letter, Issa and his colleagues said they agreed with Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) that the GAO’s revisions to the report raise “a number of troubling questions.”