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US Department of Education Principal Office Functional Statements
Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development

Functional Statements > Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development

Sections

  • Mission and Responsibilities
  • Organization
  • Order of Succession
  • Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary
  • Executive Office
  • Grants Policy Office
  • Office of the Chief Data Officer
  • Student Privacy Policy Office
  • Office of Educational Technology

  • Mission and Responsibilities

    The Assistant Secretary for the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development (OPEPD) advises the Secretary on all matters relating to policy development, implementation, and review. The Assistant Secretary is specifically responsible for:

    • Coordinating with offices across the Department to ensure that policy development and implementation is in line with the Secretary’s priorities and guidance;
    • Developing and reviewing Department budget proposals, regulations, grants, program performance measures, and the Department’s learning agenda to ensure consistency with the Secretary’s and the Administration’s goals;
    • Analyzing current and proposed education policy and directing the development of policy options for the Secretary;
    • Working with the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and other Department Offices to implement evidence-based practices;
    • Managing a repository of evidence, data, and policies necessary to formulate, develop, validate, and recommend policy positions to the Secretary;
    • Developing and enforcing the Department’s data strategy and governance policies; improving the Department’s ability to leverage data as a strategic asset; overseeing information collections approval and associated OMB clearance process; and overseeing lifecycle data management.
    • Developing and maintaining a technological and analytical infrastructure to be responsive to the strategic data needs of the Department; and exploiting traditional and emerging methods to improve decision making, optimize of programs for desired outcomes, and generate efficiencies.
    • Clarifying and enforcing the following laws related to student privacy: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), and the Armed Forces Recruiter Access to students and Student Recruiting Information provision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA);
    • Overseeing the Department’s privacy program;
    • Advancing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in the Department, across federal agencies, and with external partners; and
    • Developing educational technology policy and establishing strategies that encourage the use educational technology to transform teaching and learning.

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    Organization

    OPEPD is under the supervision of the Assistant Secretary, who reports directly to the Secretary of Education. Five entities report to the Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary: (1) the Executive Office; (2) the Grants Policy Office; (3) Office of the Chief Data Officer; (4) the Student Privacy Policy Office; and (5) the Office of Educational Technology.

    Order of Succession

    In the event that the Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development 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 for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, 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 Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary are vacant, or the time period during which the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary may serve in acting capacity has expired, the individuals listed below the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, in the order shown, are authorized to perform the functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary, except for any functions and duties that are required by law to be performed only by the Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development or by someone officially acting in such capacity.

    In instances where the office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development is filled, but the Assistant Secretary is absent, unavailable, otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the position, 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

    • Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
    • Chief Data Officer
    • Director of the Grants Policy Office
    • Director of the Student Privacy Policy Office

    Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary

    The Assistant Secretary serves as the principal adviser to the Secretary on all matters relating to policy development and review; performance measurement and evaluation; and budget proposals. To that end, the Assistant Secretary manages and coordinates the Department's planning, evaluation, data, and policy development activities, working with the Office of the Secretary, the Department’s grant-making offices, IES, the Office of Finance and Operations (OFO), and external organizations.

    Responsibilities include:

    • Acting as a policy clearinghouse for the Secretary including policy development and analyzing and developing policy and legislative proposals.
    • Identifying issues, preparing options, and making recommendations about policy priorities to the Secretary, other Assistant Secretaries at the Department, the White House, and the Congress.
    • Maintaining continuing liaison with other agencies in the Executive Branch and with external educational organizations.
    • Representing the Secretary and the Department in explaining and defending policies and program priorities to Department officials, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Congress, and the public.
    • Directing the review and analyses program evaluations, analytics, and data management; identifying evidence necessary for effective policy, budget, and legislative development.

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    Executive Office

    The Executive Office serves as the principal staff of the Assistant Secretary in developing, coordinating, and implementing internal administrative matters such as personnel, budget, financial management, organization, contracts, facilities, correspondence control, and support services. The Executive Office coordinates with other elements of the Department, advises on matters of concern to the Assistant Secretary, and performs special assignments as directed.

    Grants Policy Office

    The Grants Policy Office works with offices across the Department to ensure alignment with the Secretary’s priorities, including evidence-based practices — where the Department and the field can continuously improve by building stronger evidence, making decisions based on a clear understanding of the available evidence, and disseminating evidence to decision makers. Specific activities include:

    • Strengthening the connection between the Secretary’s policies and grant implementation throughout the process, from design through evaluation, including monitoring activities and continuation decisions.
    • Helping grant-making offices implement timely and efficient grant competitions so that grant awards are made as early as possible.
    • Supporting a culture of evidence-based practices, including providing guidance to grant-making offices on how to integrate evidence into program design and identifying opportunities where the Department and the field can improve by building, understanding, and using evidence.
    • Working with offices across the Department to shape the Department’s relationships with State Educational Agencies (SEAs), Local Educational Agencies (LEAs), Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), and other stakeholders to minimize federal burdens and encourage needed innovation and experimentation.
    • Developing and providing training to staff in grant-making offices in collaboration with the Office of Grants Administration in OFO.

    Office of the Chief Data Officer

    The Office of the Chief Data Officer (OCDO) is responsible for managing and improving the Department’s ability to leverage data as a strategic asset. The OCDO is led by the Department’s Chief Data Officer (CDO), whose authority is partially set forth in the OPEN Government Data Act. The CDO is charged with carrying out the responsibilities under 44 U.S.C. § 3520. These responsibilities include, but are not limited to, lifecycle data management across the Department, developing and enforcing the Department’s data strategy and governance policies. The OCDO has oversight over the Department’s information collections approval and associated OMB clearance process. It is responsible for developing and enforcing the Department’s open data plan, including management of a centralized comprehensive data inventory accounting for all data assets across the Department. The CDO submits annual compliance reports to Congress on agency compliance with the OPEN Government Data Act. The OCDO is also responsible for developing and maintaining a technological and analytical infrastructure that is responsive to the Department’s strategic data needs, exploiting traditional and emerging analytical methods to improve decision making, optimize outcomes, and create efficiencies.

    The OCDO serves several coordinating functions across the Department, federal government, and public and private sectors. The CDO chairs the Department Data Governance Board (DGB), gathering input from across the Department to inform policy and process decisions about the development and use of the Department’s data assets. The CDO also serves as the Department liaison to other agencies and OMB on the best way to use existing agency data for statistical purposes. The CDO coordinates with the Department’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) to improve infrastructure and reduce barriers that inhibit data asset accessibility and on implementing and enforcing applicable policies and procedures with respect to records management. The CDO engages agency employees, the public, and contractors in using public data assets and encourage collaborative approaches on improving data use. The CDO also supports the Department’s Performance Improvement Officer and Evaluation Officer in obtaining and using data to carry out their respective missions.

    To drive these functions, the OCDO is comprised of two divisions, collectively developing, supporting, and enforcing the Department’s data strategy, data governance, and strategic use of data assets.

    Governance and Strategy Division:

    This division is responsible for developing and enforcing the Department’s data strategy and governance policies, managing and improving the Department’s ability to leverage data as a strategic asset, and fostering a data culture. The head of this division serves as OPEPD’s representative on the DGB and represents the CDO, as needed, on the Department’s Planning and Investment Review Working Group (PIRWG). Responsibilities are supported through three formal work streams:

    • Governance and Policy: Supports development and execution of OCDO and Department policies on lifecycle data management, data resources, data protection, data quality, access, and dissemination; serves as OCDO liaison for government and non-governmental requests for data access; prioritizes data asset inventory as in accordance with Department’s open data plan; evaluates data for value, risk, and quality, and enforces agency policies under the Information Quality Act; represents OCDO in Disclosure Review Board (DRB) proceedings; and coordinates with the Department’s Senior Agency Official for Privacy to review and approve systems of records notices, computer matching agreements, and other memoranda of understanding related to data access and disclosure.
    • Innovation and Engagement: Develops and publishes the Department’s open data plan as a part of the Department’s Strategic Information Resources Management Plan; promotes data integration and sharing, making data accessible, understandable, and reusable; engages the public and private sectors on how to improve access to the Department’s data assets; develops solutions that provide tiered access based on public need and privacy protocols; develops consumer information portals and products that meet the needs of external consumers; and partners with OCIO and Department data stewards to identify and evaluate new technology solutions for improving collection, access, and use of data.
    • Strategic Collections and Clearance: Serves as the Department’s primary Paperwork Reduction Act unit, liaising with OMB to facilitate the expeditious processing of Information Collection Clearance requests; coordinates the development of delivery of technical assistances on information collection process for all Department data stewards; ensures agency compliance with Paperwork Reduction Act and monitors the Department’s collection burden with regular reporting; and identifies overlapping, outdated, or unnecessary collections, and helps adjudicate decisions that maximizes strategic information and minimizes burden.

    Analytics and Support Division:

    This division is responsible for developing and maintaining a technological and analytical infrastructure to be responsive to the strategic data needs of the Department. It provides analytic support and data expertise to the Assistant Secretary and POCs, supporting the improvement of decision making, optimization of programs for desired outcomes, and generating efficiencies to reduce burden, improper payments, and other risks. Responsibilities are supported through two formal work streams:

    • Analytics and Evaluation: Exploits cutting-edge and emerging methods, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence for program optimization, predictive analytics, and the development of other analytical products; conducts quick-turn analyses that leverage methodological techniques such as statistical modeling, quasi-experimental conditions, experimental designs, and A/B testing; developing micro- and macro-level forecasts and trends; and identifying and managing agency risk in agency programs and products, including the federal student loan portfolio, through the development of risk models, profiles, and scoring.
    • Infrastructure and Support: Supports the maintenance and continuous improvement of technological and analytical infrastructure needed for lifecycle data management and strategic use of data; boosts operational data systems through the deployment of prescriptive models that enable and automate data-driven decisions in real time; and serves as program data experts that execute, on behalf of POCs and leadership, quick turnaround analyses requiring extraction and transformation from Department systems.
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    Student Privacy Policy Office

    The Student Privacy Policy Office (SPPO) leads Department efforts to protect privacy. It provides leadership, oversight, and coordination to ensure Department and field compliance with several federal privacy laws and regulations, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, Section 208 of the E-Government Act of 2002, the Social Security Number Fraud Prevention Act of 2017, the privacy portion of the annual Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA) Privacy Report, and other applicable OMB requirements. The SPPO manages and maintains the Department’s privacy program to include the enforcement of student privacy laws, the development and evaluation of privacy policy, the management of privacy risks, and the provision of administrative and technical support to the DIB.

    The Office is led by the Department’s Chief Privacy Officer (CPO), who also serves as the Department’s Senior Agency Official for Privacy (SAOP). The CPO serves as an expert on privacy across the Department and the field, collaborates with other federal agencies and educational technology entities with roles in protecting privacy, and advises the Secretary and the Assistant Secretary on issues relating to privacy. The SPPO coordinates with other POCs on the privacy and confidentiality provisions of their laws and ensures the Department’s compliance with privacy requirements for information systems under the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA). As the SAOP, the CPO chairs the Department’s Data Integrity Board; reviews and approves System of Records Notices; coordinates with both the DIB and the Department’s CDO on the development of computer matching agreements, memoranda of understanding, and other data sharing agreements; and chairs the Department’s Privacy Incident Response Team (PIRT) and coordinates with Department’s Chief Information Security Officer on issues related to program reviews and breaches. The CPO also manages and chairs the Department’s DRB.

    SPPO provides technical assistance, guidance, and training to educational agencies and institutions, including schools, LEAs, IHEs, SEAs, and other relevant organizations on issues related to compliance with FERPA, PPRA, and the Armed Forces Recruiter Access to Students and Student Recruiting Information provisions of the ESEA. Activities include the following:

    • Develops policy for issues related to student privacy, including legislative and regulatory matters;
    • Coordinates technical assistance and guidance for relevant organizations, including educational institutions, LEAs, SEAs, and the broader community regarding FERPA, PPRA, and the Armed Forces Recruiter Access to Students and Student Recruiting Information provisions of the ESEA, including both best practices and compliance;
    • Responds to inquiries relating to privacy best practices related to FERPA, PPRA, and the Armed Forces Recruiter Access to Students and Student Recruiting Information provisions of the ESEA;
    • Creates and maintains the Department’s external web resources related to privacy best practices related to FERPA, PPRA, and the Armed Forces Recruiter Access to Students and Student Recruiting Information provisions of the ESEA; and
    • In accordance with the PPRA, 20 U.S.C. Section 1232h(c)(5)(C), prepares annual notification for State and local educational agencies of their obligations under FERPA and PPRA and coordinates training on these topics generally.

    In addition, as part of its enforcement of federal laws related to student privacy and parental rights, including FERPA, PPRA, and the Armed Forces Recruiter Access to Students and Student Recruiting Information provisions, SPPO activities include the following:

    • Investigates, processes, and reviews complaints alleging violations of FERPA and PPRA, negotiates appropriate solutions to address such alleged violations, and, when warranted, initiates enforcement actions;
    • Enforces the requirements under Section 8528 of the ESEA, which in part requires LEAs to disclose directory-type information (secondary school students' names, addresses, and telephone listings) to military recruiters and institutions of higher education, upon request and provided that the parents of the students have not opted out of such a disclosure;
    • Sets enforcement priorities, relying on data and information, as well as anticipating trends in the education community;
    • Conducts self-initiated investigations, where warranted, based on incoming information or in accord with enforcement priorities;
    • Responds to phone calls about existing complaints, and assists those seeking to file complaints;
    • Signs outgoing letters relating to complaints, such as dismissal letters, and letters of finding;
    • Communicates with complainants and educational agencies and institutions subject to the above statutes to keep them informed about enforcement matters; and
    • Uses and maintains a case tracking system for complaints and any resulting investigative or enforcement actions.

    Finally, SPPO also is responsible for raising employees’ awareness of privacy issues, demonstrates how employees can safeguard the personally identifiable information (PII) that the Department utilizes, and fosters a culture of accountability for protecting PII within the Department, including the following:

    • Ensures Department-wide compliance with all applicable statutes, regulations, and policies regarding the creation, collection, use, processing, storage, maintenance, dissemination, disclosure, and disposal of PII by programs and information systems;
    • Establishes and maintains a comprehensive privacy program and a privacy program plan that ensures compliance with applicable privacy and breach notification requirements, such as developing and evaluating Department-wide privacy policies on safeguarding privacy;
    • Oversees the implementation and management of Department-wide systems and databases that support the successful and efficient handling of privacy safeguards administration;
    • Provides guidance and instruction to Department staff regarding processes and procedures regarding the protection of PII, including Privacy Act Systems of Records Notices (SORNs) and Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs);
    • Coordinates interagency development, review, and approval of Computer Matching Agreements (CMAs) in support of the DIB and other matching activities that are not matching programs which the DIB wishes to review and report on.
    • Coordinates with the CIO and information system stakeholders on the implementation of technical controls for privacy protection within the Department’s information systems and with respect to the Department’s information technology;
    • Plays a central policy-making role in the Department’s development and evaluation of legislative, regulatory, and other policy proposals that have privacy implications;
    • Manages privacy risks associated with any Department activity that involves the creation, collection, use, processing, storage, maintenance, dissemination, disclosure, and disposal of PII by programs and information systems;
    • Serves as a champion for privacy awareness and education across the agency to raise employees’ awareness of privacy issues, developing and providing training to Department employees and contractors regarding the safeguarding of privacy; and
    • Serves as the Department’s primary liaison with the OMB and other agencies on interagency privacy safeguards, compliance, and breach notification initiatives.

    Office of Educational Technology

    The Office of Educational Technology (OET) develops educational technology policy and establishes strategies for encouraging the development and use of educational technology that transforms teaching and learning and that empowers students and families. The Assistant Secretary of OPEPD, who reports directly to the Secretary, serves as the Director of OET. The Office is authorized under Section 218 of the Department of Education Organization Act and managed by a Deputy Director.

    In performing its responsibilities, the Office:

    • Recommends policies and programs that uses the transformative power of technology to empower students, teachers, and parents;
    • Advocates for the use of technology to provide engaging, empowering, and personalized learning experiences to improve learning outcomes, often by developing and leading initiatives and special projects;
    • Supports advances in learning science and efficacy research to improve learning outcomes;
    • Develops, disseminates, and periodically updates a National Education Technology Plan to encourage the development and use of transformative and empowering educational technology;
    • Works with offices across the Department to keep staff and leadership apprised of trends in educational technology and its implications for improving student outcomes; and
    • Collaborates with a diverse group of stakeholders (including local and state education leaders; teachers, librarians, students, and parents; education technology companies and nonprofits; researchers; and other federal offices and agencies) to improve learning outcomes by encouraging the development and use of transformative and empowering educational technology.
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Last Modified: 11/08/2019