In March 2000, an agency employee embezzled nearly $2 million in federal grant money intended for two South Dakota school districts and used the money to purchase cars and property. The department seized the property and funds and both districts eventually received all of their grant money. From January 1997 to December 1999, contractors and Education employees conspiring together stole more than $300,000 worth of electronic equipment and collected more than $600,000 in false overtime pay. The House passed a bill during the 106th Congress authorizing the Comptroller General to conduct an audit of certain accounts at Education, but the legislation stalled in the Senate. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., reintroduced the bill in January. Hoekstra praised the department's initiative Friday and said he hoped the action would usher in a new era of fiscal accountability at Education. President Bush's fiscal 2002 budget proposal increases Education's funding to $44.5 billion from $39.9 billion in fiscal 2001.
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