US Department of Education Principal Office Functional Statements
Office of Communications and Outreach

Functional Statements > Office of Communications and Outreach


The Communications Unit executes the core processes related to production of written, spoken and visual content for the agency. These core processes include: writing (creating and editing original written products such as speeches, articles, and talking points); digital production (messaging across social media, the Web, and through video and photography); and interacting with the press and the general public.

  • Written Communications
    Written Communications is responsible for articulating the Department’s message by creating, researching, coordinating, writing and reviewing speeches and talking points, as well as written documents, including information for the Department’s Website, blogs, Secretarial messages, fact sheets, and reports.  The communications agenda is set by the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications, overseen by the Managing Writer, and managed by Directors for each sub-unit who report to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management.
    • Writing Team
      The Writing Team prepares remarks for the Secretary and other Principal Offices to convey information about the key policies, priorities and programs of the Department. Writers also draft op-eds, letters to the editor, articles for the Secretary’s signature and other substantive written materials. The Speechwriting unit acts as the “voice” of the Secretary to ensure consistency of style and content. The team coordinates with the Office of the Secretary and other Principal Offices to gather information, keep up-to-date on policy and priority changes, and shape messages that are aligned with those of the Secretary. The team also coordinates with the Internal Communications Team to provide all Department employees with general talking points on priority issues to assure accuracy of messaging across the Department.
    • Editorial Policy, Print and Art Services
      Editorial Policy, Print and Art Services develops and implements Department policies and standards for written products, both in hard copy and electronic for quality assurance; codifies them in the Department’s guide to publishing; and provides training and guidance to ED’s Principal Offices on implementing these policies and standards. The unit works with the contracts office to require contractors to adhere to Department publishing guidelines. The unit provides customer service to Department offices by reviewing manuscripts for conformance to ED policies and standards.  Such manuscripts will result in hard copy or online publication.  The unit manages the Department’s relationship with the Government Publishing Office (GPO) for printing and other forms of publishing; serves as the technical advisor for the production of written materials; and is ED’s liaison with the Joint Congressional Committee on Printing.  The unit also creates visual design for publications and manages the student art outreach and exhibit program.

  • Digital Strategy
    The office manages the content of the Department’s Website and the Department’s digital presence including social media platforms and blogs. It is also responsible for the digital visual content through photography, videography, and infographics. The communications agenda is set by the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications, and the office is overseen by a Senior Director and headed by a Managing Director who reports to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management.
    • Digital Media
      Digital Media uses social media designed to create communities of communication and practice (blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other media outlets) to reach the general public.  The purpose of Digital Media is to provide a constant flow of information, both written and graphic, in real time to the public and serve as a contact point for stakeholders and citizens to express their opinions and concerns. In this way, the Department can be responsive to citizens’ needs.
    • Studio Team
      The Studio Team is the primary generator of visual content for the Department and helps ED tell stories visually. The studio team covers events in which the Secretary, Principal Officers, and employees participate. Content is disseminated through the Department’s communications outlets, which include ED.gov and digital engagement and internal communications channels, as well as through publication in the general news media. Team members travel with the Secretary and other officials and provide multimedia support. The team enables the Department to be its own “broadcast house” to relay messages directly from the Department to viewers and subscribers.
    • Web Services
      Web Services manages, operates and develops content policies, procedures, and metrics for the Department website, ed.gov. The unit provides technical leadership and oversight as it works with offices throughout ED to ensure the relative currency of existing content on the ED.gov site. The unit also enhances education information dissemination and develops new information resources by producing and reviewing content. The team also manages the language assistance program which includes providing information on ed.gov in Spanish, translating requests and questions coming into the Department in languages other than English through various e-mailboxes, and overseeing phone translation services for customers.
  • Media and Customer Relations
    Media and Customer Relations plans, develops, and executes ED’s public affairs strategies to support the goals and objectives of the Department of Education. The office serves as the central channel for information to ED’s various publics and the media. The office, in coordination with other OCO components, originates and develops news products for the traditional media, online news outlets, and the general public; arranges news/press conferences, interviews, radio and television appearances; responds to media requests and maintains continuous media relations; issues a daily digest of relevant education news; and provides close, continuing contact with ED Principal Offices. The office also serves as the “front door to the Department” through a call center that fields telephone calls from the public in response to public affairs outreach, responds to email and letters from the public, and manages a “Frequently Asked Questions” section of ED.gov. The communications agenda is set by the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications, and the office is overseen by the Press Secretary and managed by a Managing Director who reports to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management.
    • Press Office
      The Press Office develops and maintains productive working relationships with national and local media, with the Press Secretary as ED’s primary spokesperson. The Office:
      • Works closely with assigned Principal Offices in planning and developing new communications strategies and activities.
      • Creates and disseminates news releases and media advisories.
      • Provides advance news notification to the general media and specialized education press on programs and events involving ED executives and/or issues.
      • Coordinates the planning, execution of, and messaging for, special events involving the Secretary or key staff from Principal Offices on critical department issues, designed to create media interest to inform the public, education groups, and others and to enlist participation in Department programs and education reform efforts.
      • Provides a regular news monitoring service for the department.
      • Develops and executes comprehensive public affairs media campaigns designed to keep the generalized and specialized publics informed of the activities and interests of ED.
      • Performs research on education-related news articles appearing in the media for OCO and other offices within the Department as requested.
    • Information Resource Center
      The Information Resource Center is the national voice of the Department as it interacts with people from all across the country. The unit coordinates and operates a citizen contact center to provide access to information, referrals, and in-depth assistance on all aspects of Federal education law and policy as well as nationally focused Departmental initiatives. Services are provided via a toll-free telephone number (1-800-USA-LEARN), email, and written correspondence. The Center provides regular feedback to senior officers concerning citizens’ concerns and responses to ED policies and programs.



Last Modified: 12/06/2016