Office of Communications and Outreach
- Mission and Responsibilities
- Order of Succession
- Functions and Responsibilities of OCO
The Office of Communications and Outreach is responsible for overall leadership for the Department in its communications and outreach activities. These activities are designed to engage the general public, including a wide variety of education, community, business, parent, student, and other organizations, in the U.S. Department of Education’s mission. Communications include interaction and collaboration with the media, intergovernmental and interagency organizations. The Office directs, coordinates, and recommends policy for activities designed to:
- Make the Department's policies and the Secretary’s goals widely understood by the public and the many groups interested and affected by education matters, with a particular emphasis on under-served groups.
- Initiate and oversee the creation of specialized and proactive public outreach and information programs of high visibility and timeliness to generate interest in and focus on issues and activities relating to the mission of the Department.
- Develop productive working relationships with the press, mass media outlets, and the many groups involved in education issues, as well as with other federal agencies, and state and local government and non-governmental organizations.
- Develop communications strategies and work with all Principal Offices to oversee and coordinate communications efforts to ensure that a clear, coherent and cohesive message is developed and communicated.
- Develop Web-based content, digital media, video broadcasts, publications, written documents, and other communication products of high quality with useful content.
- Lead, monitor, and include interagency cooperation involving the Department.
- Direct and recommend policy for the Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs and recognition programs such as the Presidential Education Awards Program, the Presidential Scholars Program, Blue Ribbon Schools, and ED Green Ribbon Schools.
The Office of Communications and Outreach is under the supervision of the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach, who reports directly to the Secretary of Education. The Assistant Secretary provides overall direction, coordination, and leadership to the following main components:
- Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary
In the event that the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach dies, resigns or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office and the office is thereby deemed to be vacant, as defined by the Vacancies Act, and the President has not designated in writing another individual to act as the Assistant Secretary, the Senior Advisor for Policy and Programs, as the designated “first assistant” under the Vacancies Act, shall perform the functions and duties of the office in an acting capacity. If both the offices of the Assistant Secretary and the Senior Advisor for Policy and Programs are vacant, or the time period during which the Senior Advisor for Policy and Programs may serve in acting capacity has expired, the individuals listed below in the order shown are authorized to perform the functions and duties of the office of the Assistant Secretary, except for any functions and duties that are required by law to be performed only by the Assistant Secretary or by someone officially acting in such capacity.
In instances where the office of the Assistant Secretary is filled, but the Assistant Secretary is absent, unavailable, otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the position, and/or there is a disruption in the normal channels of direction and communication, and there is no person officially serving in an acting capacity, and unless the Assistant Secretary or the Secretary, in writing, designates another individual to perform the functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary, the following officials, in the order shown, are delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of the office of the Assistant Secretary, except for any functions and duties that are required by law to be performed only by the Assistant Secretary or by someone officially acting in such capacity:
- Senior Advisor for Policy and Programs
- Communications Director-Proposed new title "Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications"*
- Deputy Assistant Secretary for State and Local Public Engagement—Proposed new title "Deputy Assistant Secretary for Outreach" to combine with the current and vacant Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Public Engagement
- Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management
* Note that the current Order of Succession will remain in place to reflect the current title of "Communications Director" in lieu of "Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications" throughout the duration of the current administration or until the person nominated to be Assistant Secretary is confirmed by the Senate and title changes are made to reflect the proposed reorganization.