The Biden administration got a big slap on the wrist by one of its own agencies for failing to put strong anti-fraud safeguards in its original plan to hand out $430 billion in student loan relief.
In a blistering report released yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) exposed shortcomings in Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan – which has since been squashed by the Supreme Court – saying it opened the door to fraud.
‘We found that Education quickly approved borrowers for debt relief without applying key practices to prevent fraud. For example, it didn’t verify certain borrowers’ self-reported income before approving them for relief.’
In addition, it said that the department approved over 12 million borrower applicants ‘without evaluating the accuracy and outcomes of its application process.’
And 2 million students were set to be automatically approved based on their self-reported income without the Education Department deploying ‘any tools to verify these borrowers’ incomes or ensure they were eligible for relief.’
Members of Congress were quick to jump on the report and criticize Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was slammed by Republicans for the blistering report
Education Secretary Cardona and President Biden in the Roosevelt Room
Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., accused the Department of Education of ‘covering up’ the potential fraud risks.
The senators said the agency ‘misused’ the ‘Controlled Unclassified Information’ designation in an attempt to conceal the information presented by GAO on fraud risks in its student loan cancellation ‘scheme.’
‘As members of Congress, we recognize the need to protect highly sensitive information from public release when it poses a threat to public safety or is required by statute,’ Cassidy and Paul said on a letter to the department.
‘When there is no legitimate basis for safeguarding information, however, it is important to ensure maximum transparency for the American people.’
‘The Executive Branch should never unnecessarily apply its own designations just to hide material from the public because it is embarrassing or difficult to explain.’
The Republican senators went on to blast the department for failing to provide guardrails to verify the income of borrowers in order to establish eligibility for the handout.
GAO stated that it conducted the study because ‘fraud poses a significant threat to the integrity of federal programs and erodes public trust in government.’
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, domestic policy adviser Neera Tanden and Towson University president Mark Ginsberg meet with students during a visit to Towson University
‘Proactively managing fraud risks can help ensure that taxpayer dollars serve their intended purposes.’
The Education Department is expected to take the GAO’s recommendations into consideration as it works toward a new path for loan forgiveness.
A spokesperson for the department defended the administration in a statement to Politico.
The department has ‘a carefully tailored fraud risk management strategy to ensure that only qualified borrowers would receive relief while also protecting borrowers from scams,’ the spokesperson claimed.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Daily Mail