GAO stands by for-profit college report

The Government Accountability Office found no personal bias or conflict of interest on the part of its investigators who issued a scathing report on career and technical colleges last summer, the GAO announced Tuesday.

The GAO report, pointing to deceptive marketing practices on the part of colleges like Strayer and DeVry, was the subject of congressional hearings and led to a spate of bad press for the industry.

GAO revised its report late last year, causing the for-profit lobby and some lawmakers to cry foul. The Coalition for Educational Success, which represents a handful of for-profit college companies, sued GAO for malpractice over the report.

GAO's Ethics office launched an internal investigation into the report, and the ethics officer found weaknesses in the process, supervision, and analysis of the investigators, but those errors were corrected in the November revisions, GAO said.

"We continue to stand by the overall message of our report and we have no plans to withdraw it," said Chuck Young, managing director of GAO public affairs. "However, we are concerned that there were weaknesses in some of the quality assurance steps taken that ultimately required GAO to issue some corrections to the report to provide more precision and context. Our goal is to never have to issue revisions." GAO will implement a series of recommendations on improving its analytical process that came from the internal audit.

GAO is conducting a second investigation into for-profit colleges. House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline, R-Minn., has requested that the director of the division that oversaw the first investigation be barred from any involvement this time around.

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