Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs
A. Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary
The Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs is responsible for general direction and supervision of legislative activities of the U.S. Department of Education; provides leadership for all legislative activities of the Department; and serves as key advocate for the Department's legislative program. The Office represents and sets forth to the Congress the views of the Secretary on all legislative matters and oversees all contacts with the Congress by Departmental personnel. Staff of the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs participate on legislation and regulation development teams and bring to those teams their perceptions of the legislative history behind the law.
The Immediate Office is also responsible for managing and coordinating functions in the areas of communications, budget and financial management, human resources management, administrative services, and procurement.
In performing its legislative responsibilities, the Office:
- Maintains technical expertise in specific program areas and provides historical perspective for these programs.
- Communicates with Congressional staffs and relays information to the Assistant Secretary on upcoming education activities and hearings.
- Covers hearings as assigned and reports to the Assistant Secretary on the substance of Congressional committee hearings.
- Assists in presenting and interpreting the Department's legislative proposals before the appropriate committees.
- Reviews Department correspondence and other communications to Members of Congress.
- Advises and provides services to program officers responding to direct Congressional requests concerning legislative matters related to authorizations.
- Works closely with the Offices of the Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Under Secretary, and other Department offices, as appropriate, in the formulation and development of legislative proposals.
- Informs Department officials of the intent of the authorizing committees with respect to Department programs and policies and advises these officials of possible Congressional reaction.
- Participates in developing strategy for presentation of the Department's legislative proposals to Congress.
- Participates in implementing the development of Departmental regulations and administrative policy determinations occurring after the passage of bills.
- Evaluates national policy for education implications and prepares analytical reports on the merits and consequences of the interaction of education policy on total national policy.
In performing its congressional responsibilities, the Office:
- Represents the Department in meetings with Members of Congress, along with the appropriate Assistant Secretary, and represents these in their absence.
- Provides information on educational problems and views of Members of Congress and communicates their views to the Secretary and other Departmental offices.
- Maintains information files on individual Members of Congress which include profile and biographic material, and correspondence and other communications with the Department.
- Assists in providing briefings for Senior Officers on the status of legislative proposals, appeals of education program decisions, or other matters relating to Congress.
- Identifies outreach efforts to Congress with regard to legislation and other Departmental activities and determines target audiences and appropriate timing of such efforts.
- Obtains information about positions, statements, and concerns of Members of Congress regarding Departmental policies.
- Identifies potentially critical issues and serves as an early warning center on those issues which are of concern to Members of Congress and which might make enactment of Department of Education legislation difficult.
- Develops and coordinates responses to Members of Congress and their staff on matters involving the needs of their constituents. Reviews and processes office and Departmental correspondence, ensuring that responses are made in a timely manner.
- Notifies Congressional offices of grants awards made to residents of relevant Congressional districts.
- Prepares mass/comprehensive mailings to Congress to keep them informed of Departmental activities and policies.
- Schedules and/or facilitates meetings between Members of Congress and their staff and Senior Officers, and monitors follow-up activities.
- Monitors schedule of the Secretary and Deputy Secretary and alerts Assistant Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary so that appropriate briefing material may be prepared. Alerts Congressional offices regarding out-of-town travels of the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and other Senior Officers.