Irony In Government: The GAO Can’t Audit Itself


The Government Accountability Office is basically charged with making sure that the government isn’t needlessly wasting a ton of money on things you and other taxpayers don’t care about. If you think that’s a deeply ironic and – above all – endless and useless task, you’d probably be right. If you’d question whether the government could set up an entity that would effectively audit other entities also set up by the government because it sounds not only impossible but ridiculous, you’d either be right, or just politically aware.

Because, as it turns out, the GAO is just as awesome as doing it’s job as the rest of the government. And American students might be about to pay the price.

If there is a code for lying, then Rule No. 1 ought to be to make the lie believable. Not adhering to that first rule exposed a fraud perpetrated by the Government Accountability Office and helped uncover suspicious activity at the Department of Education…

According to the GAO report, career colleges were guilty of shady recruiting practices. What attracted the attention of this columnist were absolute statements and allegations that did not add up. This led to a Freedom of Information Act request to get answers.

The GAO alleged that representatives at all 15 schools tested in a sting operation made deceptive or otherwise questionable statements to undercover investigators posing as prospective students. The GAO further claimed four colleges encouraged fraudulent behavior.

The Washington Examiner points out that it seems kind of strange that all fifteen schools in the sting did something stupid. Out of fifteen schools in various locations, with varying reputations, not a single school followed the rules? It sounds like something that a rabid Congressman might say on the floor during a debate, or write on a suspiciously fluorescent poster-board designed to attract the attention of CNN, but not a legitimate entity compiling a scientific report for an independent panel.

The response to the FOIA request was unexpected. The GAO quietly reissued its report. The revised report was so dramatically different that it called into question either the competence or the integrity of the GAO. In general, it was GAO investigators who suggested deceptive or fraudulent activity with representatives merely acknowledging the investigators’ schemes…

In some cases, investigators appear to have turned off recording devices in midinterview raising questions regarding what investigators did not want recorded. Additionally, conversations portraying college representatives as acting professionally and responsibly were excluded from the report. In sum, the GAO report was a fraud.

Awesome. Totally awesome. The worst part? Senator Harkin, who’s been leading the charge against these for-profit schools is trying to use the information in the GAO’s report to prevent kids who attend these schools from being able to qualify for federal student loans. The goal seems to be to eliminate all of the for-profit competition for the liberals’ preferred form of youth indoctrination, the government-owned non-profit four-year colleges and universities that churn out legions of Democratic voters on a routine basis. Senator Harkin doesn’t seem to be deterred by things like bad GAO reports, noted-short sellers attempting to influence his legislation, or basic facts.

Republicans have gone so far to call Harkin’s mission biased and unprofessional. It’s really a mess. Which also adequately describes the Government Accountability Office. It’s enough to make you cynical about government. Unless, of course, you attended a non-profit four year university.

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