On Wednesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training and the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a joint hearing, “Improving Department of Education Policies and Programs Through Independent Oversight.” The hearing focused on the importance of independent oversight through the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) along with the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) record of implementing the GAO and OIG’s recommendations.
Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, and Todd Rokita (R-IN), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, recited similar opening remarks on the importance of independent oversight in the federal government as an effective and efficient use of taxpayers’ dollars. Foxx and Rokita each cited four different GAO reports with recommendations that ED has not implemented as a way of showing ED’s inadequacies and lack of concern for recommendations by federal oversight agencies.
Conversely, Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, refuted the claims and noted that ED has implemented 218 of the 268 recommendations that GAO has issued since 2004, which amounts to an average GAO implementation rate of 93 percent in comparison to the federal average of 80 percent. The three witnesses—the Honorable Kathleen Tighe, Inspector General at ED; Ms. Jacqueline Nowicki, Acting Director of Education Workforce and Income Security Issues at the GAO; and Ms. Melissa Emrey-Arras, Director of Education, Workforce and Income Security Issues at the GAO—agreed that ED has made great strides since 2012 to resolve both agencies’ recommendations, but suggested that ED could be more efficient in implementing the recommendations on time.
The Republican Members continuously questioned the witnesses on ED’s inefficiencies and growing bureaucracy while the Democratic Members asked the witnesses to repeat published report findings—on campus debit cards, restraint and seclusion in schools, and special education in charter schools—for the record. For more information about the hearing with written testimony and an archived webcast, go to: http://edworkforce.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=392260.
Prepared for Triangle Coalition for STEM Education by Washington Partners, LLC