Davis: Use Ed. rules to spot bogus degrees

Rep. Tom Davis thinks the government should consider using the Education Department's criteria for determining a school's eligibility for federal financial aid to spot employees using degrees from unaccredited educational schools.

The Virginia Republican, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, this month asked Education secretary Roderick Paige how the department sets and applies its aid standards.

The request stemmed from a continuing General Accounting Office review of federal employees' use of inflated academic credentials on their resumes. GAO began the review at the request of Davis and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. GAO expects to finish its report for the lawmakers next month. Both Davis and Collins have said they will schedule hearings soon after.

Consistent standards

'As we continue to investigate the scope of this problem across the federal government, we also need to discuss what actions can be taken to address diploma mill use in the near and long term,' said David Marin, deputy staff director for the House committee. 'It's clear that agencies lack consistent standards for identifying diploma mills for the purposes of making hiring and promotion decisions.'

Collins has suggested that Education create a master online list of accredited schools that would be accessible by students and employers. But Marin said such a list would not be a cure-all.

The standards used to measure an institution's eligibility for financial aid might be useful as the government moves 'toward crafting a nationwide personnel policy on diploma mills,' he said.
The questions Davis posed to Education include:
  • How does the department determine that an institution offers bona fide courses for degrees?

  • How does it choose the accrediting organizations on which it relies? Which does it refuse to accept as valid?

  • How can its expertise assist federal managers in identifying fraudulent degrees?

To read the complete Davis letter, go to www.gcn.com and enter 202 in the GCN.com/search box.

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