US Department of Education Principal Office Functional Statements
Office for Civil Rights

Functional Statements > Office for Civil Rights

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Front Office

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 Front Office of the Office for Civil Rights includes three Deputy Assistant Secretaries, one for Enforcement, one for Policy, one for Management and Planning, and a Director of Outreach, Prevention, Education, and Non-discrimination who work with the Assistant Secretary (AS) and the Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) in the oversight responsibilities for the Office for Civil Rights. The Office also includes three Senior Executive Service members who directly manage four Enforcement Divisions. The Enforcement Directors report directly to the AS, PDAS, and DAS for Enforcement.

Enforcement Divisions

OCR has four Enforcement Divisions, each consisting of three regional locations. Each regional location has the same general organizational structure and conducts the core business i.e., civil rights enforcement performed by Complaint Review. Each Enforcement Division is managed by a team that includes a non-supervisory Enforcement Coordinator and three Associate Enforcement Directors (AEDs). The Enforcement Division Management Teams have responsibility for coordinating the program operations and resource management of three regional site locations. In addition, they implement program initiatives and manage staff and financial resources at individual offices. The members of the Enforcement Division Management Team report directly to one of the Enforcement Directors.

Outreach, Prevention, Education, and Non-discrimination Center

The Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary is directly supported by an Outreach, Prevention, Education, and Non-discrimination (OPEN) center which work with OCR’s enforcement program to further the mission of the department and OCR, primarily through the development and provision of technical assistance to institutions and the public to promote proactive enforcement and compliance with the laws enforced by OCR. The OPEN center will provide support and technical assistance to recipients aimed at preventing discrimination, while also conducting proactive outreach to the public and stakeholders.

The OPEN Center:

  • Supports OCR’s enforcement of federal civil rights laws through the development and provision of technical assistance.
  • Ensures technical assistance activities are conducted in accordance with the laws and regulations enforced by OCR, the Assistant Secretary’s directives, and case law.
  • Ensures technical assistance is of high quality, accurate, thorough, and legally sound.
  • Implements strategies, including internal controls, to ensure that technical assistance is relevant and effective, consistent within regional offices and nationwide, conducted in a timely manner, and appropriately prioritized in support of OCR’s enforcement activities within each region.
  • Assesses and updates existing technical assistance presentations, and develops new technical assistance presentations.
  • Ensures the development and delivery of technical assistance to institutions and the public.
  • Responds appropriately and timely to regional offices’, and other institutions’ requests for customized technical assistance.
  • Develops systems to track technical assistance requests, delivery, and response timelines to include traceable measures, and metric.
  • Identifies, anticipates, and responds to emerging legal issues and emerging regional or national trends, particularly technical assistance needs.
  • Maintains close working relationship with appropriate information technology personnel to ensure effective use of technology to deliver technical assistance, particularly with respect to identifying new and efficient delivery modes.
  • Coordinates technical assistance priorities, allocates resources, monitors progress, and manages efforts to ensure technical assistance objectives are achieved. Establishes and promotes customer service standards in connection with the delivery of technical assistance, both internally and externally.

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Program Legal Group

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. The 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 prog r am to facilitate voluntary compliance.

The PLG is led by a Director and Deputy Director who coordinate with the Enforcement Directors and the Director of the Resource Management Group. The Director of the PLG reports directly to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy.

The PLG consists of the Director's and Deputy Director's immediate office and four Program Legal Teams. The PLG immediate office is responsible for management of t he four Program Legal Teams and coordination of program legal activities throughout OCR. to perform these functions. Staff of the PLG immediate off ice include various support staff, including Management and Program Analysts, Equal Opportunity Assistants, Program Support Assistants, and Clerks.

Program Legal Teams

In support of the OCR strategic priorities, and in conjunction with the Enforcement Divisions, three of the four Program Legal Teams develop regulations, guidelines, legal standards and policies pertaining to civil rights compliance; and provide program training and technical assistance. The fourth Program Legal Team is responsible for administering the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), which collects and disseminates data (disaggregated by race, ethnicity, sex, disability, English learner status) regarding public elementary and secondary schools.

Three of the Program legal Teams are generally organized by subject-matter area based on the primary statutes enforced by OCR: race, color and national origin discrimination (Tit le VI of the Civil Rights Act); sex discrimination (Title IX of the Education Amendments); and disability discrimination (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act/Americans with Disabilities Act). These Program legal Teams also are primarily responsible for two OCR projects that cross subject-matter areas: the Magnet School Assistance Program (MSAP); and the Methods of Administration (MOA) Program . These Program Legal Teams further can address the other statutes enforced by OCR, including the Age Discrimination Act and the Boy Scout Equal Access Act.

These three Program legal Teams prepare and disseminate mat erials and informat ion in a variety of formats to audiences both within and outside OCR fo r the purpose of explaining OCR po l icy, regulations, and related legal concepts and case law related to the subject-matter they address. Using a team approach, each of these three Program legal Teams:

  • Identifies areas in which the development of legal standards and policies is needed.
  • Conducts research to support legal standards and policy development.
  • Develops policies, legal standards, guidelines, and regulations pertaining to civil rights compliance.
  • Assists other OCR components in the consistent interpretation and application of legal standards, regulations and OCR policy.
  • 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.
  • Participates in high priority or precedent setting enforcement investigations in consultation with the Enforcement Divisions.
  • Serves as liaison to the Office of the General Counsel and the Department of Justice on case­ related matters.
  • Reviews Department and other agencies' regulations and proposed legislation to ensure conformance with civil rights requirements.
  • Advises and assists other Department components on the civil rights aspects of Department program activities.
  • Provides technical assistance to indiv iduals 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.
  • Presents OCR's policies to inter- and inter -departmental entities and to national organizations.
  • Develops proposals for enhancing OCR's technical assistance program in consultation with the Enforcement Divisions.
  • Develops memoranda of understanding with other government agencies and Departmental components covering intra- and inter-departmental policy and technical assistance coordination.
  • 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.

The fourth Program Legal Team prepares the collection of the CRDC and disseminates materials and information in a variety of formats to audiences both within and outside OCR for the purpose of explaining the data collected and how it intersects with OCR policy. Using a team approach , this fourth Program Legal Team:

  • Identifies areas in which the collection of data may be needed.
  • Conducts research to support the data collection.
  • Develops definitions for the data collection.
  • Obtains clearance from 0MB under the Paperwork Reduction Act to collect the data.
  • Oversees the collection of the data, including overseeing contractors.
  • Assists other OCR components in the consistent interpretation and application of the data.
  • Develops 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.
  • Advises and assists other Department components on the data aspects of Department program activities.
  • Designs and oversees a website that displays the data for public use.
  • 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.
  • Presents information from OCR's data collection to inter- and inter-departmental l entities and to national organizations.

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Resources Management Group (RMG) (ECR)

The Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary is directly supported by a Resources 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 Deputy Assistant Secretaries for Management and Planning, Enforcement, and Policy and reports to the Assistant Secretary through the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management and Planning and the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary. The Component is divided into four teams as follows:

  • Budget and Planning Support Team
  • Human Resources Team
  • Customer Service Technology Team
  • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Team

Budget and Planning Support Team (ECRB)

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. Other responsibilities include procurement, contract management or coordination, and travel. BPST serves as OCR's liaison with the Department on the above management and administrative matters. 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. 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 for all OCR programs and activities, current and future, particularly regarding the objectives of OCR's Strategic Plan.
  • 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.
  • Reviews and handles purchase requests for goods and services. Responsible for reviewing purchase requests to ensure that requests describe requirements adequately and promote environmentally sound and energy-efficient products and services, and to ensure that they provide sound bases for scheduling acquisitions and making decisions about ordering from established sources or contracting from commercial suppliers, including planning for acquisitions.
  • Handles travel management activities for all OCR components.

Human Resource Team (ECRH)

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 Training 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 the 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.
  • 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.

Customer Service Technology Team (ECRC)

The Customer Service Technology Team (CSTT) 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, coordinates with subject matter experts/teams on complex legal and policy and program 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. The Information Technology component 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, CSTT:

  • 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.
  • Operates and maintains OCR's Electronic Library, updating information periodically; helps users (staff and the public) obtain information from the library; 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.
  • 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.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Team (ERCF)

The FOIA team provides a variety of duties to support OCR's ability to provide Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act (PA) data, in support of enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act of 2001, and their implementing regulations. Using a team approach, the FOIA team:

  • Reviews and analyzes incoming FOIA and Privacy Act requests, to include responding to public inquiries by providing guidance on relevant FOIA/PA statutes, researching, analyzing, and evaluating records for response to information requests, and coordinating responses with appropriate components to provide guidance the public.
  • In coordination with the Office of the General Counsel, the FOIA Service Center, and the Student Privacy Policy Office, interprets and applies laws, regulations, policies, and guidance regarding OCR records and corresponding student records, and disseminates this information to OCR staff.
  • Makes determinations about pro-active disclosures and access to OCR information, provides guidance relating to the collection, use, dissemination of records collected by OCR, as well as the maintenance and management of said records.
  • Works with OCR's Director of the FOIA team to implement policies and processes for supervisors and employees within OCR as they relate to handling FOIA requests, and to clarify and resolve operational issues.
  • Discusses sensitive requests with appropriate program and management officials.
  • Keeps abreast of recent developments in the field of public disclosure, including recent court and Department decisions, current legislative resolutions and problems encountered within the FOIA program.
  • Reviews, proposes redactions, and produces large numbers of responsive records.
  • Identifies, reviews, and proposes redactions for documents related to correspondence and in support of draft materials related to OCR policy guidance.

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Last Modified: 10/08/2020