Issa investigating allegations that GAO destroyed evidence gathered during investigation of for-profit colleges

Mike Riggs Contributor
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Two House committees appear to have locked horns with the Government Accountability Office over a 2010 investigation into the for-profit college industry.

The latest salvo is a letter from House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, who announced in December that his committee would be looking into the GAO’s handling of an investigation into aggressive recruiting practices by for-profit colleges. Of particular interest: The GAO released an amended version of its original report in which it retracted numerous claims of impropriety by college recruiters.

“Our staffs have recently learned that a senior [Forensic Audit and Special Investigations Unit] management official told a group of FSI employees in an internal meeting that, but for the video recordings made in this investigation, the problems with the report would have never come to light,” reads the most damning section in Issa’s letter [PDF] to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro.

“According to information received, when speaking about the serious flaws in the report, the FSI management official downplayed them, characterizing them as merely mistakes.”

The letter also states “we are alarmed about reports that work papers including video recordings related to the proprietary schools investigation and report may have been destroyed, effectively obscuring what actually took place.”

This is the second letter looking into the GAO report that a House committee has sent to Dodaro’s office this week.

On Feb. 2, The House Committee on Education and the Workforce sent a letter to Dodaro requesting that every member of the FSI team, including its director, be barred from participating in a rumored follow-up investigation into for-profit colleges. The letter was signed by Democratic Reps. Alcee Hastings of Florida and Carolyn McCarthy of New York, and committee chair John Kline, the Minnesota Republican who also cosigned Friday’s letter with Issa.