GAO Report Released Under Pressure from Senator Harkin

Late Tuesday night, The Daily Caller published a story with news that pressure from Senator Harkin led to errors in the now-discredited GAO report on for-profit college recruiting. The article notes:

“A internal GAO email obtained by The Daily Caller, a self-evaluation on what went wrong from a member of the team that wrote the report, suggests GAO was under the gun.  The email says GAO was put under ‘extreme short time frames’ by Harkin to issue the report and ‘congressional staffers’ demanded the inclusion of numerous details as it was being finalized.”

While it has been public knowledge that this report was requested by Senator Harkin, it is discouraging to learn that emails between Harkin’s staff and the GAO show that requests were made for the report to include specific details as it was being finalized, including the citation that “X of 15 schools” had deceptive claims. Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee John Kline (R-MN) and Representative Rob Andrews (D-NJ) have both expressed their disappointment that the report has become further tainted. Chairman Kline even expressed sentiments that manipulation of the GAO report on this important topic was “deeply troubling.”

It has been clear throughout the for-profit education debate that Senator Harkin appears to not be a fan of this sector of higher education. However, I hope that the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions did not use his position to unfairly influence a government report, further discrediting the report but also harming the GAO’s institutional integrity.  Senator Harkin’s campaign against for-profit colleges has not only had an impact on the for-profit education industry but also on the students whose careers have benefitted from their attendance at these schools.

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