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Federal File: Career moves

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Some former federal education officials have apparently followed a common, if often maligned, Washington career path by taking jobs in the industry they had regulated.

Representative Bart Gordon, Democrat of Tennessee, recently expressed outrage that former Education Department officials are involved with three trade schools in his state with high student-loan default rates, and launched a General Accounting Office investigation of the practice.

"[A] 65 percent loan-default rate at an institution owned by a former Education Department official is an insult to every American taxpayer and a broken promise for hundreds of young Americans who end up out of a program, out of work, and with bad credit because they got talked into taking a big student loan," Mr. Gordon said in his letter to the gao

The officials he named are:

Jim G. Bockman, a former employee of the old Department of Health, Education, and Welfare who is a co-owner of the Health Care Training Institute in Memphis, which had a 1988 default rate of 65.6 percent.

Ken Palmer, a former ed student-aid specialist and the school's consulting attorney.

William Noll, a former student-aid official in ed's Atlanta regional office who now oversees financial aid at Draughons Junior College in Memphis and Knoxville, where default rates are 48.4 percent and 26.2 percent, respectively.

Richard Hastings, a former director of ed's debt-collection and management-assistance service who is the executive vice president of Careercom, a national trade-school network. Mr. Gordon said 21 of Careercom's 32 "campus networks" have default rates over 25 percent.

Representatives of Careercom and the Health Care Training Institute said that hiring former government officials is not improper, and argued that they enabled the schools to improve their management.

Another former ed official has launched a new career, this time in politics.

Harry M. Singleton, an assistant secretary for civil rights in the Reagan Administration, last week won the Republican nomination to be the District of Columbia's nonvoting delegate in the Congress.

He will face a potentially weakened Democratic nominee in the fall, as Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Georgetown University professor, responds to recent revelations that she and her husband had not filed a D.C. tax return since 1982.

But Ms. Norton, a former chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is still seen as the heavy favorite in the overwhelmingly Democratic jurisdiction.--mp & jm

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