Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development
A. Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary
The Assistant Secretary oversees the Department's planning, evaluation, policy development, and budget activities, coordinating these with the relevant Principal Offices and outside organizations such as the Congress and the Office of Management and Budget.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary is responsible for the policy management process that reaches across primary offices to ensure policy is aligned, integrated, implemented and communicated with one voice. Activities include coordinating policy development with research, studies, data collection, grants, budgeting, and communication (internal and external). The Assistant Secretary is also responsible for managing the Policy Committee, which is led by the Secretary and supported by OPEPD staff. Additionally, a staff member in the immediate office serves as the Legislative Services Officer to the Division of Legislative Counsel in the Office of the General Counsel.
The Policy Committee is a key element of the policy management process. It provides a forum for rigorous, data driven decision-making and allows key Department executives direct, early involvement in setting policy priorities. The Committee is comprised of the Secretary, Chief of Staff, Deputy Secretary, Under Secretary, Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Congressional Affairs, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, and the General Counsel. Other Department executives may be involved in meetings, depending on the matter before the Committee. The Committee meets weekly in short, focused meetings to make decisions on specific policy recommendations. It also meets quarterly to review the Department’s policy agenda and set priorities.
Such policy development responsibilities include:
- Analyzing policy proposals from program Principal Officers. Identifying issues, preparing options, and making recommendations about priorities.
- Implementing the Secretary's decisions by ensuring policies are widely disseminated to internal and external shareholders. Monitoring and analyzing program operations to ensure policies are implemented consistent with management objectives, strategies and initiatives.
- Directing the development, and assisting in the defense before Congress, of legislative proposals in cooperation with OGC, OLCA, and other staff and program Principal Officers.
- Advising and counseling the Secretary about the consequences of actions and events within and outside the Department and provides information and analyses that enable the Secretary to anticipate and avoid potential problems and conflicts.
- Maintains continuing liaison with internal and external educational organizations. Representing the Secretary and the Department in explaining and defending policies and program priorities to Department officials, OMB, the Congress, and the public.
- Directing the development and analyzing legislative proposals developed outside the Department by identifying issues; preparing options, evaluation findings and recommendations; assuring consistency with previous policies; and projecting possible effects; and developing priorities and program directions based on current management focus.
- Directing the review and analyses of short‑ and long‑term plans for program evaluations, management objectives, and statistical surveys; identifying evaluations and studies that are necessary for effective budget, policy, and legislative development.
- Acting as a policy clearinghouse for the Secretary, Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Secretary by serving as a focal point for policy development and integrating the many disparate forces and processes that affect Department policies and programs.