November 20, 2001

New Department of Education Secretary Controls Fiscal Leaks

Under the leadership of Secretary Rod Paige, the United States Department of Education has released a final report on internal efforts to overhaul its management system.

"The key word here would be controls," said Mr. Paige at a press conference. "The management here is improving, and at the rate we're witnessing now, we can soon arrive at a point where we can say the management is in pretty good shape."

New financial controls have been set, which will help protect against future misuse of department resources. Agency officials reported that the controls include a permanent team to oversee the changes, new internal measures to keep track of funds, and a more aggressive approach to tracking down collections of defaulted student loans.

This is in sharp contrast to the final years under former Secretary Richard Riley, when the Department of Education failed three consecutive annual audits. Last year, federal investigators uncovered a scheme in which a group of department employees had allegedly defrauded the agency of more than $1 million in technological equipment, time, and resources.

In addition to the new controls, the agency's auditors will be required to prepare interim financial statements four times a year. The department failed the three independent audits because of missing or incomplete financial data.

"We commend Secretary Paige for his effort to hold the education department responsible for the way it spends taxpayers' money," said the National Center for Home Education's Manager of Federal Policy and Research Caleb Kershner. "No agency within the federal government should consider itself above financial accountability."