Not Invited

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Yesterday the U.S. Education Department had a meeting to discuss new rules on incentive compensation, which effectively prevent colleges from offering compensation to admissions officers for recruiting more students. For-profit colleges weren’t invited.

The Department invited college officials to “share [their] questions and concerns to help inform our anticipated upcoming guidance regarding the rule.”

In January, however, the for-profit college association, which now calls itself the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) filed a lawsuit to prevent the Department to issue regulations about inventive compensation, complaining that,

“Members believe in fair regulatory oversight to protect students, institutions and taxpayers,” said Harris Miller, president and CEO of APSCU. “But these regulations as written are not fair, lawful or workable. We’ve filed this lawsuit to halt the implementation of three specific regulations only after careful consideration and only after our good faith efforts to work with the Department of Education to craft clear, workable rules through the negotiated rulemaking process and the public comment period failed.”

In allowing colleges to offer staff bonuses for recruiting students, however, critics pointed out that this creative an incentive for staff to enroll unqualified students. Admissions officers were not penalized when students failed to succeed in academic and vocational programs.

At any rate, the Department apparently did not want to hear from for-profit colleges at yesterday’s meeting. According to an article in Inside Higher Ed, the invitation explained that, ” In accepting the invitation to meet, you are certifying that you or your parent company are not members or affiliate members of APSCU, and that you have no connection to the filing of the claims by APSCU.”

The president of the APSCU, Harris Miller, found this development troublesome. As he wrote:

We find it strange that the lawsuit has anything to do with who is or is not invited…. Such behavior is enough to make one more than a little paranoid and also wonder what happened to Obama’s transparency in government.”

Well okay, but as a general rule the fact that you’re suing an organization indicates that you might not be all that eager to be productive in discussions with that organization.

Also, what does that have to do with transparency? Transparency means characterized by visibility or accessibility of information. It’s not a secret discussion, Miller. It’s a just a discussion in which you can’t participate. But don’t worry; transparency will prevail. You’ll be fully informed about what happens. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer