Collins queries Labor about Callahan

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairwoman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, wrote last Thursday to Patrick Pizzella, assistant secretary for the Labor Department's Office of Administration and Management, seeking details about measures they can or might take regarding Laura Callahan's questionable academic degrees and the department's policies about similar situations.

The Homeland Security Department put Callahan, a senior director in the CIO's office, on paid leave following reports first posted by Government Computer News and Washington Technology that she had obtained her bachelor's and master's degrees and Ph.D. from Hamilton University. The unaccredited Wyoming school requires scant work for its credentials. The Secret Service, a DHS agency, is investigating her academic credentials.

Callahan worked as deputy CIO for the Labor Department before she joined DHS.

Referring to the published reports that Callahan had obtained her degrees from a diploma mill, Collins said, "I am writing to solicit information on this matter, including whether Ms. Callahan used these bogus degrees to gain a promotion or bonus, [and] whether federal funds helped her pay for any of the degrees."

Collins' letter asked Pizzella:

  • What measures did Labor take to determine whether Callahan obtained degrees from "substandard or fraudulent institutions"?

  • Are there records of instances when Callahan referred to or cited her degrees from Hamilton University?

  • Did Callahan receive any promotions or bonuses based on her Hamilton degrees?

  • What personnel actions might Labor take in cases of employees who possess fraudulent, substandard or nonexistent education credentials?

  • Are there records of the department paying for any or all of Callahan's degrees?

  • What policies and procedures does Labor have to ensure that employees seeking tuition reimbursement are studying at accredited institutions?

  • What actions has the department taken since the Office of Personnel Management determined that Callahan's degrees were from an unaccredited institution?

  • Collins asked Pizzella to provide the information by July 25.

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