If no one is held accountable in government, nothing will change

One might think that when the government pours billions of dollars into a program, there would be some oversight to ensure the money is not wasted. That would not be an accurate assumption, however.

Since 2010 the U.S. Department of Education has provided loans to tens of thousands of people so they could obtain higher education through Corinthian Colleges Inc., which was one of the nation’s largest for-profit degree-granting entities until it went into bankruptcy this spring.

Corinthian had operated more than 100 campuses of subsidiaries including Everest, Heald and WyoTech colleges throughout this country and Canada. But all the while, Corinthian was involved in shady activities, according to federal investigators. They included charging exorbitant fees, misleading students about job prospects and encouraging some students to lie on applications for federal loans.

Some students already have said publicly they will not repay their loans. Apparently that led DOE officials to work out a plan whereby thousands of loans will, in effect, be forgiven.

That could cost taxpayers as much as $3.6 billion, it has been estimated.

Canadian authorities apparently were ahead of their counterparts here in smelling a rat. Ontario’s provincial government suspended Corinthian’s operating license early this year, leading the company to close its Canadian campuses on Feb. 19.

It was only on April 26, after being challenged by U.S. officials, that Corinthian shut down in this country.

Federal officials are quick to threaten to cut off loans for students at smaller institutions, including community colleges, when they suspect problems. Some members of Congress question why the DOE did not act sooner on Corinthian.

But here’s another question on government oversight: Congress and the White House are supposed to be the ultimate watchdogs over federal agencies. Yet in scandals ranging from shoddy treatment of veterans to bureaucrats treating themselves to lavish “conferences” on the public’s dime, no one ever seems to be punished for abuses. Who’s to blame for that?