Office for Civil Rights
A. Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary
The Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary includes a Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) who assists the Assistant Secretary (AS) in the oversight responsibilities for the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The Office also includes two Senior Executive Service (SES) Enforcement Directors who directly manage four Enforcement Divisions. The Enforcement Directors report directly to the AS and DAS.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary serves as the principal advisor to the Secretary of Education on civil rights matters, sets the priorities in OCR's Strategic Plan, provides program objectives for OCR's national enforcement docket, and manages OCR's congressional liaison and public information activities.
The Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary is directly supported by a Resource Management Component (RMG). The RMG supports the core business (civil rights enforcement) of the agency through the effective management of OCR's resources, including budget, human resources, technology, and customer service. The component Director coordinates with the Enforcement Directors, the Associate Enforcement Directors, and the Director of the Program Legal Component, and reports directly to the AS and DAS.
The Component is headed by a Director who also serves as OCR's Executive Officer and reports directly to the AS through the DAS. The function of Principal Operating Component Negotiator for EEO/Labor Relations is in the Office of the Director. The Director's special assistant serves as principal liaison with the Department's labor relations experts, advises the AS on labor-management issues, and coordinates OCR negotiations on staff-related matters in collaboration with the Human Resources Team (HRT).
The Component is divided into four teams as follows:Budget and Planning Support Team;
Human Resource Team;
Information Technology Team; and
Customer Service Team.
The Budget and Planning Support Team (BPST) plans, develops, implements, and coordinates OCR's financial management program, including allocation, reallocation, and expenditure of resources to support OCR's core business of civil rights enforcement. BPST conducts program analyses of ongoing expenditures to facilitate forecasting for out-years and to recommend areas for cost savings. It provides advice to the AS and DAS on the financial resource requirements for implementing OCR's Strategic Plan.
Using a team approach, BPST:
- Plans, coordinates, formulates and executes OCR's Budget.
- Provides in-depth program analyses to support budget requests, facilitate budget forecasting, evaluate ongoing expenditures, and identify areas for cost savings.
- Prepares supporting data (e.g., briefing materials, testimony, and justifications) for use at Congressional hearings and for responding to Congressional inquiries on budget-related issues.
- Designs and executes annual and quarterly financial operating plans for all headquarters and regional components.
- Develops budgetary policies and procedures.
- Certifies fund availability; inputs obligations into the Department accounting system; maintains appropriate fiscal records; and reports on expenditures and obligations.
- Establishes, maintains, and oversees systems of financial control, and provides guidance, training, and technical assistance to regions and headquarters components regarding sound fiscal management techniques and systems.
- Reviews and analyzes all fiscally oriented plans required of OCR ( e.g., contract and ADP plans) to ensure consistency with budgetary objectives.
- Initiates cost saving proposals in headquarters and the regions based on monitoring and analysis of component's expenditures.
- Continually assesses the relationship of resource usage and future requirements as they relate to OCR's enforcement responsibilities, OCR's Strategic Plan and the Department's Strategic Plan. Anticipates the impact of emerging civil rights issues (e.g., Title IX athletics, affirmative action) and recommends program and budget initiatives or modifications to accommodate new issues.
- Supports the core business of the agency (civil rights enforcement) by ensuring that budget planning and management efforts are consistent with resource implications of all OCR programs and activities, current and future, particularly regarding the objectives of OCR's Strategic Plan.
The Human Resource Team (HRT) services all OCR components, providing authoritative advice and support to OCR managers and staff on a wide range of management and administrative issues that support the core business of the agency. HRT has primary responsibility for human resource management including all personnel systems; reorganizations, delegations of authority; EEO and labor relations (in collaboration with the Director's Special Assistant); employee development/nonprogram training activities; and timekeeping. HRT serves as OCR's audit liaison with OIG, GAO, and other Department and Federal Offices in reviewing, or coordinating the review of, audits and similar reports. Other responsibilities include procurement, ADP systems security, contracts management or coordination, and travel. HRT serves as OCR's liaison with the Department on the above management and administrative matters.
Using a team approach, HRT:
- Provides authoritative advice to OCR managers on general personnel and other human resource issues and on the full range of administrative issues; prepares reports required by the Department or internally and comments on proposed administrative directives, procedures and regulations related to these matters (e.g. affirmative employment, Section 504 compliance, flexiplace).
- Manages OCR's personnel processes, including performance appraisals, awards, standards of conduct, outside activities, timekeeping, EEO/Affirmative Employment/Reasonable Accommodation, and labor relations, and serves as liaison with OCR regional offices and Departmental specialists on these matters.
- Develops and is responsible for personnel policies, programs, and procedures to effectively meet current and long-range OCR staffing needs consistent with Department and OPM guidance and with OCR's Strategic Plan. Manages OCR's ceiling control and FTE accounting system.
- Initiates recommendations for and analyzes all requests for changes to organizational structure; develops or reviews OCR position descriptions and functional statements; coordinates OCR's Delegations of Authority. Serves as principal liaison with the Office of Management on all reorganization matters.
- Facilitates OCR's employee development and nonprogrammatic training activities, including those involving liaison and coordination with the Trainiing and Development Team or those procured by contract.
- Serves as a liaison with the Department's labor relations and EEO staff; reviews employee grievances and EEO complaints, analyzes examiners' findings and develops proposals on accepting, modifying, or rejecting examiners' recommendations.
- Serves as OCR's audit liaison with Office of Inspector General, General Accounting Office, and other Department or Federal offices in reviewing, or coordinating the review of, audits and similar reports.
- Conducts analyses and develops, implements, and coordinates procedures for the efficient management of space, telecommunications, furniture, equipment, ADP systems security, supplies, facilities, safety, office moves, and travel, as well as handling procurement activities in these areas for all components.
- Coordinates all OCR contracts; serves as liaison with the Department and contractors; and provides advice to OCR managers on policies and procedures governing procurement and monitoring.
- Identifies problems and issues affecting existing or proposed administrative policies or practices; prepares analyses and issue papers offering recommendations; may establish study teams for addressing cross-cutting issues.
The Information Technology Team (ITT) designs, implements, maintains, and monitors information systems that collect data on OCR's programmatic and management activities. ITT ensures that data are collected on a timely and accurate basis; and retrieves and formats data in response to recurrent and ad hoc management information needs. On a continuing basis, ITT provides automated data processing services, guidance, and support to all OCR components. Based on the requirements of OCR's Strategic Plan, ITT makes recommendations to AS concerning OCR's long-range technological needs and develops and implements the plan.
Using a team approach, ITT:
- Conducts analyses of OCR's management information needs and designs or modifies, tests, and maintains systems and procedures to address those needs.
- Conducts studies on OCR procedures for collecting, storing, retrieving, and analyzing information, recommending ways to reduce costs and improve quality; stays abreast of latest technology.
- Provides full range of support services to assist other OCR components in the design, development, and operation of data and telecommunications systems.
- Develops and manages OCR's Automated Data Processing and Office Automation Plans, including developing and monitoring contracts relating to technology.
- Provides training and assistance to other OCR offices on the effective use of management information systems and related technology and equipment.
- Performs system audits, making recommendations for enhancements.
- Coordinates with appropriate staff to develop and revise technical guidance manuals for automated systems.
The Customer Service Team (CST) provides a wide range of authoritative informational services on OCR's enforcement program and administrative activities. CST reviews, controls, and tracks correspondence; prepares or coordinates responses to correspondence, including Freedom of Information and Privacy Act requests (coordinates with subject matter experts/teams on complex legal and policy issues); manages OCR's central mail facility; conducts customer service surveys; responds to OCR Hotline and TDD calls; operates and maintains OCR's Electronic Library, containing information on OCR's policy, legal standards, and findings; and prepares major recurring reports, e.g., the Year-End Report for the Department and the Annual Report to Congress.
Using a team approach, CST:
- Provides ombudsman service to the public and all OCR customers by receiving complaints on OCR matters; investigating the facts of each situation; communicating with all appropriate people to gather and exchange information; coordinating with OCR and Departmental staff to identify actions that would resolve problems and issues; assisting in initiating corrective actions; reporting to customers on the status of requests; and providing follow-up to ensure quality customer service.
- Serves as a point of contact with the Secretary's Executive Secretariat.
- Reviews all incoming correspondence, determines necessary action, and assigns responsibility and due date to appropriate component; maintains automated tracking system; monitors and reports on the status of all correspondence and assignments.
- Prepares responses to a variety of incoming correspondence, coordinating, as appropriate with subject matter experts and/or teams.
- Responds to FOIA and Privacy Act requests, coordinating responses with appropriate components.
- Operates and maintains OCR's Electronic Library (EL), updating information periodically; helps users (staff and the public) obtain information from the EL; provides legal research services for staff nationwide; maintains CD-ROM and hardcopy collections of information and research materials for the agency.
- Manages OCR's central mail facility, including facsimile and electronic mail transmissions.
- Maintains official OCR files, historical records, and archives; searches and retrieves files as requested; retires records as appropriate.
- Identifies public information needs and develops appropriate publications (e.g., fact sheets, pamphlets) on general matters related to OCR's program; updates existing publications; maintains inventories and coordinates republishing process; and coordinates distribution to regional sites.
- Develops and implements systems for the dissemination of policy guidance and training and technical assistance materials to other OCR components.
- Answers OCR Hotline, TDD, and general incoming calls, providing full coverage during business hours. Responds substantively to callers; following-up calls with appropriate materials, access to the EL, or arranging contact with appropriate staff. Monitors and responds to voice mail messages. Operates and maintains specialized service for difficult callers.
- Develop recurring annual reports, monthly data reports on Strategic Plan issues, and ad hoc reports requested by OCR senior managers.
- Conducts customer service surveys to identify areas; including correspondence; telephone; and mediation and investigative services that need improvement.
The Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary is directly supported by a Program Legal Group (PLG). The PLG supports OCR's enforcement program through the coordination, development and dissemination of program policy and in the provision of legal guidance. The PLG assists the Enforcement Divisions in the conduct of administrative proceedings. PLG develops or participates in the development and delivery of program training for OCR staff engaged in compliance and enforcement activities and provides resource development, support and coordination for OCR's technical assistance program to facilitate voluntary compliance.
The Program Legal Component consists of three Program Legal Teams. The Component head coordinates with the Enforcement Directors, the Associate Enforcement Directors and the Director of the Resource Management Component; and reports directly to the AS and DAS.
The Program Legal Director's immediate office is responsible for management of the program legal teams and coordination of program legal activities throughout OCR. It provides research and statistical support across OCR, to the extent its resources permit. Additionally, it recommends, implements, and monitors OCR's delegations of civil rights authority with other Federal agencies. To perform these functions, staff of the Program Legal Management Component includes two Statisticians, one Management/Program Analyst, and an Assistant. The Component teams address OCR strategic priorities in support of the office's enforcement efforts, for example Section 504/ADA; Within School Discrimination; Lau; Desegregation; Magnet Schools; Title IX; Testing; Vocational Education; Harassment; Parental Empowerment and other issues.
In support of the OCR strategic priorities and in conjunction with the Enforcement Divisions, the three Program Legal Teams develop regulations, guidelines, legal standards and policies pertaining to civil rights compliance, the conduct of complaint investigations and compliance reviews, and the provision of program training and technical assistance. The Teams prepare and disseminate materials and information in a variety of formats to audiences both within and outside OCR for the purpose of explaining OCR policy, regulations, and related legal concepts and case law.
Using a team approach, each of the three Program Legal Teams:
- Prepares or assists Enforcement Divisions in preparing motions, briefs, pleadings, and other legal documents on case-related matters.
- Conducts or assists Enforcement Divisions in administrative proceedings against recipients to correct violations of the civil rights laws.
- Provides support for Federal court litigation, in consultation with the Enforcement Divisions.
- Advises and assists other Department components on the civil rights aspects of Department program activities.
- Develops guidance materials and provides training in litigation techniques in consultation with the Enforcement Divisions.
- Prepares or assists other OCR components in preparing responses to non-routine requests and appeals under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts.
- Serves as liaison to the Office of the General Counsel and the Department of Justice on case-related matters.
- Develops policies, legal standards, guidelines, and regulations pertaining to civil rights compliance, the conduct of complaint investigations, and civil rights compliance reviews, and the provision of technical assistance in consultation with the Enforcement Divisions.
- Identifies areas in which the development of legal standards and policies is needed in consultation with the Enforcement Divisions.
- Conducts research to support legal standards and policy development in consultation with the Enforcement Divisions.
- Conducts or participates in high priority or precedent setting compliance review investigations in consultation with the Enforcement Divisions.
- Assists other OCR components in the consistent interpretation and application of legal standards, regulations, and OCR policy.
- Reviews Department and other agencies' regulations and proposed legislation to ensure conformance with civil rights requirements.
- Develops investigative guidance, manuals, technical assistance and training materials for OCR staff engaged in compliance and technical assistance activities in consultation with the Enforcement Divisions.
- Develops and conducts training for OCR staff, or coordinates or participates in training development and delivery in consultation with the Enforcement Divisions.
- Presents OCR's policies to inter- and inter-departmental entities and to national organizations.
- Develops memoranda of understanding with other government agencies and Departmental components covering intra- and inter-departmental policy and technical assistance coordination.
- Prepares technical assistance and training materials in consultation with the Enforcement Divisions.
- Maintains on-going liaison to assist other OCR components in carrying our their technical assistance programs most effectively.
- Develops proposals for enhancing OCR's technical assistance program in consultation with the Enforcement Divisions.
- Provides technical assistance to individuals and groups representing recipients and beneficiaries, both in response to requests and as a result of outreach initiatives, including preparation of technical assistance presentation material for these audiences in consultation with the Enforcement Divisions.
- Coordinates, as appropriate, and reports on the Memoranda of Understanding between OCR components and civil rights organizations.
OCR has four Enforcement Divisions, each consisting of three regional enforcement offices. Each enforcement office has the same general organizational structure and conducts the core business i.e., civil rights enforcement. Each Enforcement Division is managed by an Enforcement Director who supervises a Division Counsel, three Associate Enforcement Directors (AEDs) (Office Directors) and other Divisional Staff. The Division Directors have responsibility for directing and coordinating the program operations and resources of three enforcement offices. The AEDs implement program initiatives and manage staff and financial resources at individual offices. The Division Directors report directly to one of the Enforcement Directors.