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Chairman Miller Asks Secretary Spellings to Provide Answers on Why Education Department Failed to Provide Complete Reading First Program

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, sent the following letter today to U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings about information that the Department of Education failed to provide to the Committee to assist in its investigation of mismanagement and conflicts of interest in the Reading First program.


Dear Madam Secretary:

Today, your Department issued a state-by-state report on the federal Reading First program. This report includes comprehensive information on the assessment products that the states use to evaluate student progress on reading.

As you know, Education and Labor Committee staff members have been conducting a months-long investigation into mismanagement and conflicts of interest in Reading First. As part of that investigation, on February 27, 2007, Committee investigators submitted a written request to the Department for state-by-state breakdowns of the Reading First funding that went to specific reading programs (which included core, supplemental and assessment programs) in use by the states. Committee investigators reiterated this request during a meeting with Department staff on March, 29 2007.

The Department did not provide the requested information in full to the Committee until yesterday, Wednesday, April 18, 2007. Yet much of the requested information is the same as the information on assessments included in the report that is being publicly released today. It is obvious that a great deal of time went into preparing and formatting this report. It is therefore clear that much of the information requested by Committee investigators was available earlier than the date it was provided by the Department to the Committee.

It is inconceivable to me that the Department withheld the requested information from Committee investigators who have been conducting a formal Congressional inquiry. Please respond to this letter in writing by 9:00 a.m. tomorrow with the following information:

*When the Department first possessed the information in today's report on types of reading assessments used by the states; and
*Whether, to your knowledge, Department staff deliberately withheld that information from Committee investigators.

This is an inquiry into troubling evidence of waste, fraud, and abuse in the Reading First program. The Committee is investigating the corrupt process by which the program was implemented. It goes without saying that I expect and demand the Department's full cooperation in providing documents and information in a timely manner.


Chairman, Education and Labor Committee

— George Miller
House Education/Labor Committee


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