Diploma mill inquiry reaches military

Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs

Two Capitol Hill leaders officially asked the General Accounting Office to expand its investigation of diploma mill degree holders to include the Defense Department.

In a letter sent this morning, Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairwoman Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and House Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), asked GAO officials to broaden their investigation to include Defense personnel.

Collins and Davis originally requested the GAO investigation in July 2003. The GAO inquiry is to determine the extent of the problem regarding federal employees who hold diploma mill degrees, whether these degrees were used to obtain employment and promotions, and whether federal funds were used to pay for these degrees.

"We are now asking the GAO to examine diploma mill degree use and reimbursement at the [DOD] in order to get a more complete picture of the extent of the problem," the letter said.

The GAO investigation initially focused on the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Energy, Transportation, Education and Veteran's Affairs, the Office of Personnel Management and the Small Business Administration.

"No contender for a job — whether it's in the private sector or federal government — should lose out to a candidate because that candidate holds a bogus degree," Collins said.

Today's request follows a diploma mill meeting last week in which a proposal was made for the Education Department to develop an online listing of accredited institutions.

The original request for the GAO investigation followed the June 2003 revelation that Laura Callahan, a former deputy chief information officer at the Homeland Security Department, held degrees based on life experiences from Hamilton University.

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