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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Education's Women's Educational Equity Act (WEEA) Program, focusing on: (1) what interventions were implemented under WEEA between 1986 and 1991, by whom, for what audiences, and at what costs; (2) whether these activities promoted educational equity for women and reflected legislative requirements; and (3) how changes in program administration affected the ability of the WEEA Program to achieve its legislative purpose.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
Congress should weigh whatever benefits it perceives from the various funding requirements--such as the special consideration for applicants who have not received assistance under WEEA or under part C of title IX of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the requirements for a geographical distribution of awards--against any drawbacks of those provisions. In this small program, the multiplicity of funding requirements may make the grant award process too mechanistic and may reduce the likelihood that higher scoring applications would be funded.
Closed - Implemented
Changes in the WEEA legislation require that the Department of Education establish new regulations regarding funding to reflect revised priorities.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Education The Secretary of Education should revisit the fundamental goals and strategies of the WEEA Program. The doubling of the WEEA appropriation makes it particularly important to steer resources away from local delivery of direct services and toward the broader elimination of inequitable policies and practices that may otherwise affect future generations of girls and women.
Closed - Implemented
The 1994 revisions to the Womens Educational Equity Act require that the Department award two-thirds of WEEA funds to implementation of local projects. These funds cannot be redirected to broader projects. However, the remaining portion of the program will support research and development on strategies to support gender equity.
Department of Education The Secretary of Education should take steps to ensure that the WEEA Program is supported by adequate evaluation of funded projects and sufficient administrative support.
Closed - Implemented
The new WEEA legislation requires coordination between the Office of Education Research and Improvement and the WEEA program office to enhance the research and developmental efforts supported by WEEA. As part of a general effort to improve grant administration, the Department is monitoring all grants to ensure that evaluation requirements have been met.

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