Joint Hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the U.S. Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives at 1:00 p.m. CDT.
Opening Statement of Honorable Marlin Stutzman, Chairman, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity
Good afternoon everyone.
As you all likely know, there has been considerable discussion on the other side of Capitol Hill and in the press about instances of questionable practices by schools as well as the need to increase transparency to the operations colleges and universities.
President Obama recently issued an Executive Order directing VA, the Department of Education, and DoD to take steps to improve the information and services available to veterans and to police the college education market.
We are here today to listen to many of the stakeholders involved in veteran education and I am eager to hear from them regarding the possible effects of the President’s order.
I would note that the Executive Order contains some elements in legislation we considered in our March hearing, introduced by Mr. Bilirakis and myself, as well as many other items. For myself, I am open to things that will add to veterans’ ability to make informed choices while not reinventing the wheel.
For example, the Department of Education’s College Navigator website has 272 categories of data, many of which are further subdivided by various demographic and financial subcategories. After reviewing those categories, other than the number of veterans attending a school, I believe it would the rare veteran who would need more information to choose a school than now contained in those of 272 data points.
Before we begin with the first panel, I would like to note that in reviewing today’s testimonies, several witnesses have testified that there needs to be a coordinated effort on the part of the various oversight organizations.
In my opinion, this Subcommittee’s role in that effort should begin with ensuring that the membership of VA’s Advisory Committee on Education reflects that need. We also must ensure that the Advisory Committee has the opportunity to present its views on these types of issues to the Secretary and Congress as required by 38 USC 3692.
I am disappointed that since Congress revised the advisory committee’s membership in Public Law 111-275, the committee has not met in the past year and possibly longer. Therefore, I hope Director Worley will inform us of his plans to make use of the advisory committee.
Also, in reviewing the membership of the advisory committee, I think we should consider bringing in some experts in compliance and enforcement and I look forward to working with the Ranking Member and the Subcommittee to enhancing the role of the advisory committee.
I now recognize the distinguished Ranking Member for his remarks. I would note that as a graduate of both Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, he must have no difficulty getting tickets to autumn’s civil war between the Cyclones and Hawkeyes. Since this is an election year, I will not ask him which school he roots for. Mr. Braley.