Washington, D.C.—Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Department of Education for records related to former Education official Robert Shireman and two organizations closely associated with him, The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) and California Competes. CREW submitted a similar records request to the University of California.
Read CREW's records requests to:
Mr. Shireman served as both deputy undersecretary of Education and as a consultant to the department from 2009-2011. Education’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) long has been investigating whether Mr. Shireman violated ethics laws by discussing sensitive government information with TICAS, an organization he founded and of which he was president. TICAS refused to comply with an OIG subpoena for records regarding its interaction with Mr. Shireman, forcing the Department of Justice to file legal action. In March, a federal court ordered TICAS to turn over documents.
Mr. Shireman, now the executive director of California Competes, recently returned to Washington, speaking at an event at the Center for American Progress last month.
CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, “Bob Shireman left Washington under an ethics cloud and it would be interesting to know what came of the investigation and whether — despite, the fact that TICAS fought hard to keep secret its interaction with Mr. Shireman — the department continues to work with him.”
During his time as Deputy Undersecretary, Mr. Shireman headed the effort to more stringently regulate for-profit education companies. An investigation by CREW uncovered records showing extensive contact between DOE officials and Wall Street investors. Particularly troubling were the many emails that revealed short-sellers were influencing proposed regulations in a way that stood to drive down the stock price of for-profit colleges and allow investors to reap huge profits. Based on these documents, in 2011 CREW asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate possible market manipulation and twice asked Education Secretary Arne Duncan to examine the improper influence on Education’s regulatory process. CREW also had called on the OIG to investigate Mr. Shireman.
Ms. Sloan continued, “TICAS, which was Mr. Shireman’s organization, perhaps unsurprisingly fought a subpoena aimed at illuminating its founder’s wrongdoing. Those familiar with Mr. Shireman and his work should have the full story.”