Lawmakers ask GAO to merge diploma mill probes

Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Tom Davis last week said they asked the General Accounting Office to investigate the use of diploma mill degrees by federal employees.

The request combines separate audits the pair sought in requests sent last month to GAO. Collins (R-Maine) is chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee; Davis (R-Va.) is chairman of the House Government Reform Committee.

Each previously asked GAO for slightly different reviews of the use of questionable education credentials by federal employees.

The lawmakers asked GAO to focus on whether federal funds have been used to pay for such degrees and whether the degrees have helped employees gain promotions.

'The use of diploma mill degrees within the federal government, and the probability that federal funds have been used to defray the costs of such degrees, greatly concerns us,' the pair noted in their request letter to GAO.

The letter asks that GAO's Office of Special Investigations conduct the review.

'Public trust in government is a key pillar of our democracy,' Davis said. 'There is no place for diploma mill degree holders to work in our government, especially when we are talking about homeland security.'

Collins said postsecondary degrees are the keys to opening doors in the private- and public-sector job markets.

'It's time to figure out whether we need to change the locks so that diploma mill degree holders are no longer allowed to compete unfairly with the men and women who have worked so hard to earn legitimate degrees,' she said.

Collins and Davis said they would decide their next step after receiving GAO's review.

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