U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking the department to provide required information on the Head Start re-competition process.
In an effort to improve the quality and accountability of the Head Start program, in 2007 Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act (H.R. 1429). The law requires low performing Head Start programs to compete in a "fair, consistent, and transparent" process for continued federal funding. However, in addition to delaying implementation of the new re-competition process for nearly three years, HHS continues to ignore the law's important transparency requirement. As the members note in their letter:
The department has refused to release any information, including basic facts and figures, during the implementation of the process, falling far short of this important requirement Widespread concern with the program's selection process and perceptions that grants are being awarded without regard for the merits of the applicants led to the inclusion of the [re-competition] process in the last reauthorization of the Head Start Act. Unfortunately, HHS' continued lack of transparency serves to justify doubts surrounding the department's ability to improve the quality of the Head Start program.
The oversight letter is part of congressional Republicans' continued effort to ensure the Head Start program protects valuable taxpayer resources and best serves the needs of participating children and families.