Following news this week that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has led to jobs being “created or saved” in Congressional districts that don’t exist, the GAO issued a new report warning that the U.S. Department of Education is falling down on its oversight responsibilities.

The GAO reports that the U.S. Department of Education:

…Has made uneven progress in implementing a department-wide, risk-based approach to grant monitoring…Has limited financial expertise and training, hindering effective monitoring of grantees’ compliance with financial requirements… Lacks a systematic means of sharing information on grantees and promising practices in grant monitoring throughout the department….

The bottom line, as GAO explains, is that “these shortcomings can lead to weaknesses in program implementation that ultimately result in failure to effectively serve the students, parents, teachers, and administrators those programs were designed to help.”

These findings from GAO are particularly worrisome since the U.S. Department of Education is in charge of distributing $97 billion that was provided by the ARRA legislation this year. Members of Congress and the Obama administration have a responsibility to monitor and ensure that those funds are being spent effectively.

Considering our ballooning budget deficit and the rising national debt, today’s students are ultimately going to be paying for the current Congress’s profligate spending. The least Congress can do is to see that those tax dollars are spent effectively to help them get a decent education.