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GOP chairman: New details on GAO report ‘deeply troubling’

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Jonathan Strong
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      Jonathan Strong

      Jonathan Strong, 27, is a reporter for the Daily Caller covering Congress. Previously, he was a reporter for Inside EPA where he wrote about environmental regulation in great detail, and before that a staffer for Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA). Strong graduated from Wheaton College (IL) with a degree in political science in 2006. He is a huge fan of and season ticket holder to the Washington Capitals hockey team. Strong and his wife reside in Arlington.

Rep. John Kline, the GOP chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, says new details reported by The Daily Caller about the GAO’s error-ridden report on for-profit colleges are “deeply troubling” and put the report’s findings in question.

“The details surrounding this report are deeply troubling and certainly challenge the credibility of its findings,” Kline told TheDC.

Kline is seizing on the “troubling” details to push back against a pending Education Department regulation on for-profit schools. “This is yet another reason the administration should cease their attack on propriety schools and work with Congress on reforms that will protect all students,” he said.

GAO issued a slew of corrections in November to an undercover investigation into for-profit colleges requested by Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, who had unveiled the report at a hearing highly critical of the schools Aug. 4.

An internal GAO email obtained by The Daily Caller, a self-evaluation on what went wrong from a member of the team who 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.

“It certainly discredits the report, doesn’t it?” said Rep. Rob Andrews, New Jersey Democrat and long-time advocate for the for-profit schools, “The fact that they felt pressure to finish this on time is disquieting.”

Sources close to the issue have long said Harkin’s influence on the report was key, but the official GAO report on what happened apparently whitewashed the issue. That report was not released to the public.

The report was “an anomaly due to its extreme short time frames,” the email says, adding that the deadline for the report was “not flexible.”

“The team’s unwillingness to say no to the additional insertion of details at the end of a job created some of our most obvious inaccuracies,” the email says, citing internal pressure at GAO for the inclusion of these “details” as well as from “stakeholders” and “congressional staffers.”

The report was crucial because it helped the push for strict new regulations at the Department of Education on the for-profit colleges. The most controversial part of the regulations, called gainful employment, is pending at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

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  • Kathleen Bittel

    OK, the gloves are off. I, unlike you, am willing to stand up and speak my mind using my real name, I am choosing to not hide behind some pseudonym. @ Kingfish…you really think this is an effort to discredit the GAO on the part of the LEFT? Oh my dear sir, you are gravely mistaken. Google my name and you will learn that I testified at the September HELP committee hearing. Let me tell you what I personally witnessed. The “Left” remained in the room to hear me tell the truth of what I witnessed, while the “Right”, Senators Enzi and McCain in particular, left the room without giving me the courtesy of listening to what I had to report to them. The only other Republican to bother to attend this most important hearing, Senator Burr, did his best to humiliate me and harass me for my willingness to speak the truth.

    I sacrificed everything, my job, my income, my stability to report to the American public what I witnessed first hand. Do you think I would do that if I did not passionately believe that America needed to learn the truth that I witnessed? If you take the time to view the video of my testimony, you will quickly learn that I was appalled by the exit of the REPUBLICANS on the committee. If you wish to place blame on Congress for failing to oversee their responsibilities, you need to take a look at the facts…look to see who received the most money from the for-profit industry to turn a blind eye to this egregious problem. John Kline is among the biggest players. Check your facts before you allow your prejudice to spew untruths.

    And as far as this article is concerned…I see it as a “Hail Mary” attempt to discredit the GAO report. If you had read the original email, like I have done, then you would know that this article includes snippets of the real email conversation taken out of context to prove the author’s intended point. Personally? I don’t need the GAO report to convince me of the wrongdoing in this sector…I LIVED IT! I personally witnessed every one of the allegations on a daily basis (with the exception of the allegations toward the financial aid department, I’m not saying those things did not happen, I am only truthfully attesting that the financial aid officers that I personally worked with did not, to my knowledge, perpetrate the alleged allegations).

    I challenge the Daily Caller to publish my remarks and not delete them because they do not fit their tainted viewpoint. Trust me, I will publish these remarks in other publications if you do not do so…therefore casting aspersion upon your willingness to publish the truth.

    • kingfish

      OK, we BOTH agree that this article is an ATTEMPT TO DISCREDIT THE GAO….OBVIOUSLY BY “BOTH” PARTIES.. My comment was actually written for Mr. Strong’s almost identical article this morning featuring derogatory remarks on this GAO report by a Democrat, Senator Harkin. When the first article was removed, I posted my comment here.

      When Congress attacks its own professional investigative team (paid for by the taxpayers), the country is in DIRE STRAIGHTS (as if we didn’t know that already). These so-called “representatives” of the people are trying to circumvent the law and the ongoing GAO AUDITS, which they haven’t managed to get rid of yet (like they did the BANKING REGULATIONS), are STANDING IN THEIR WAY.

    • virginiagentleman

      Miss Kathleen, first, let me thank you for the courage you have shown thru this ordeal. Courage in government is a very rare commodity. You Ma’am, have more courage than the majority in the white house or congress! Where they are spineless, you have iron. Where they are feckless, you show honesty. I don’t have to agree with you and your point of view in order admire your stance. I am a constitutional conservetive. If its not covered in our sacred constitution, then , I consider it bogus. May I say to you that I would never ask you to compromise your core beliefs, nor the truth as you see it. While we may not always agree, I will defend your right to your views, and I know you will defend my right to my views. The national debate is no longer about PARTY , but rather our survival as a nation. From one warrior to another, fight on, ma’am, fight hard!

  • kingfish

    Looks like Mr. Strong didn’t like the comments to this same story (with Harkin’s photo) this morning, so now we have the same story with another politician’s photo. The other very valid comments are at:
    http://dailycaller.com/2011/05/17/political-pressure-tainted-error-ridden-gao-report

  • kingfish

    Mr. Strong: This looks like a big effort by the LEFT to SLANDER the GAO (General Accounting Office), whose only LOYALTY is as an investigative arm of CONGRESS. These are professional accountants, and they aren’t “bought and sold” like the BIG 8 PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRMS.

    It’s OBVIOUS to anyone paying attention to what’s going on in D.C. that “ALL” the government agencies in this administration and W’s have:

    1) IGNORED the GAO reports FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS, with NO CORRECTIVE ACTION TAKEN, and that

    2) CONGRESS HAS TOTALLY FAILED IN ITS “OVERSIGHT” RESPONSIBILITIES, has put NO TEETH behind the GAO findings, and has “ALLOWED” unmitigated corruption by these agencies to continue unabated to the point that they now BELIEVE and SEE that they are “ABOVE THE LAW” and “above response to GAO” or FOIAs. Is it any wonder that Judicial Watch has had to sue the Obama administration over 80 times to get FOIA documents?

    3) TO CONGRESS: IF YOU WON’T BACK THE GAO WITH ANY “TEETH”, THEN DISSOLVE THEM AND SAVE TAXPAYERS THE MONEY….YOU USELESS JERKS.

    This is the VERY reason the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS “OUT OF CONTROL”….a continuing do-nothing congress.