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US Department of Education Principal Office Functional Statements

Functional Statements > Office of the Secretary

Sections

  1. Mission and Responsibilities
  2. Duties and Functions of the Secretary
  3. Order of Succession
  4. Duties and Functions of the Deputy Secretary
  5. Duties and Functions of the Immediate Office of the Secretary
  6. Duties and Functions of Subunits in the Office of the Secretary

I. Mission and Responsibilities

Section 427 of the General Education Provisions Act states that the Department of Education’s mission is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation, by (1) ensuring equal opportunities to participate for all eligible students, teachers, and other program beneficiaries in any project or activity carried out under an applicable program; and (2) promoting the ability of such students, teachers, and beneficiaries to meet high standards.

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II. Duties and Functions of the Secretary

The Secretary is responsible for the overall direction, supervision, and coordination of all activities of the Department and is the principal adviser to the President on Federal policies, programs and activities related to education in the United States.

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III. Order of Succession

In the event that the Secretary dies, resigns or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office, and the office is thereby deemed to be vacant, the Deputy Secretary shall temporarily perform the functions and duties of the office in an acting capacity.

  • Deputy Secretary
  • Under Secretary
  • General Counsel
  • Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Assistant Secretary, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development
  • Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
  • Assistant Secretary, Office for Civil Rights
  • Assistant Secretary, Office of Postsecondary Education
  • Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
  • Assistant Secretary, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs
  • Assistant Secretary, Office of Communications and Outreach
  • Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary
  • Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary
  • Senior Advisor, Office of the Deputy Secretary
  • Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Office of the Secretary
  • Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, Office of the Secretary
  • Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Finance and Operations

In instances where the office is not vacant, but all of the above principal officers are unable to perform the functions and duties of the office, the functions and duties of the offices shall be performed by the remaining principal officers in an order of seniority determined by date of appointment.

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IV. Duties and Functions of the Deputy Secretary

The Deputy Secretary assists the Secretary in the discharge of Secretarial duties and responsibilities. The Deputy Secretary serves as Acting Secretary in the absence of the Secretary.

Under the Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA), the Deputy Secretary serves as Chief Operating Officer for the Department. As such, the Deputy Secretary acts on behalf of the Secretary with senior Department leaders in developing and executing effective management and in identifying key organizational vulnerabilities and executing effective approaches to manage risks across the Department's programs, grants, loans, contracts, and related services. The Deputy Secretary leads critical change efforts across the Department

Additionally, as directed by the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary focuses on the development and implementation of policies, programs, and activities relating to education matters across a wide spectrum of interests. The Deputy Secretary also has responsibility for the conduct of the intergovernmental relations of the Department in accordance with 20 U.S.C. 3412(a) (2) (A), the Department of Education Organization Act, as amended.

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V. Duties and Functions of the Immediate Office of the Secretary 

The Immediate Office of the Secretary (OS) provides direct advisory and logistical support to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary. Senior staff positions in OS include the Chief of Staff to the Secretary (CoS), the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (DCoSO), the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy (DCoSP), the Senior Advisor(s), and the Performance Improvement Officer (PIO).

  1. Duties and Functions of the Secretary’s Chief of Staff

     

    The CoS provides overall direction and guidance to the OS staff, works closely with the White House on a wide variety of policy matters coming before the Secretary, represents the Secretary's views in contacts with senior officials within and outside the Department and responds to appropriate inquiries concerning the Secretary's views and positions. Additionally, the CoS coordinates and collaborates with relevant personnel within and external to the agency, with significant roles in contributing to and achieving the mission and goals of the agency. The CoS provides overall direction and guidance to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, and the International Affairs subunit.

  2. Duties and Functions of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations

     

    The DCoSO is responsible for scheduling, advance, and related operational matters pertaining to the Secretary and provides guidance and direction to the Scheduling and Advance Staff, the Executive Office, the Executive Secretariat, and the White House Liaison, who coordinates with the White House on personnel and scheduling matters and on sensitive political issues and is responsible for the processing and placement for all appointments for non–career and advisory council positions.

  3. Duties and Functions for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy

    The DCoSP provides guidance and direction on a wide range of policy matters and issues. In collaboration with the Secretary and Deputy Secretary, the DCOSP provides guidance and advice on policy and budget formulation and equitable services for private school students and teachers.

  4. Duties and Functions of Senior Advisor(s)

    Senior Advisor(s) provide expert advice to the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary to inform decision-making on the Department’s strategic direction and program and policy goals; implement critical change efforts and initiatives across the Department on behalf of the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary; evaluate and advise on the implications of proposed new or revised education policies, regulations and legislation and other education-related proposals critical to the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary; supports the development and execution of executing effective management approaches; provides guidance on how the Department invests in and administers grants; and advises on the operation and human capital management.

  5. Duties and Functions of the Performance Improvement Officer

    The PIO provides overall organization management to improve agency performance and to achieve the mission and goals of the agency through the use of strategic and performance planning, measurement, analysis, regular assessment of progress, and the use of performance information to improve the results achieved. To that end, the PIO oversees the development and implementation of the Department’s strategic plan, annual performance plans, and annual performance reporting. In addition, the PIO advises the Secretary and Deputy Secretary on the selection of agency goals, including opportunities to collaborate with other agencies on common goals.

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VI. Duties and Functions of Subunits in the Office of the Secretary

  1. Scheduling and Advance Staff

    The Scheduling and Advance Staff is responsible for meeting the daily information needs of the Office of the Secretary and for managing the logistics and advance work for the Secretary's travel and public appearances.

    In performing its responsibilities, the Staff:

    • Manages all aspects related to the Secretary's travel and public appearances.
    • Receives and schedules requests for speaking engagements.
    • Clears and plans the agenda for Secretarial appearances and coordinates the advance work related to travel and logistics.
    • Coordinates the preparation of briefing materials for the Secretary, assuring the Secretary is briefed in advance of daily meetings and trips. This responsibility entails:
      • Determination of the information needed for each activity and management of the data collection process.
      • Analysis of the information provided and preparation of briefing materials.
      • Preparation of briefing materials for the White House for Presidential and Vice Presidential trips and meetings.
      • Preparation of regular reports on the activities and initiatives of the Department for the White House including the Weekly Calendar of Agency Events and the Monthly Listings of ED Major Accomplishments.

     

  2. Executive Office

  3. The Executive Office provides administrative and management services and is responsible for: the development, execution, and monitoring of the OS budget and contracts; development of internal administrative policies and operating procedures; human resources management; information technology, telecommunications and office equipment services; office space planning and utilization; travel authorizations and reimbursements, etc. The EO is also responsible for the coordination of emergency preparedness activities as they relate to the Secretary's Continuity of Government responsibilities. EO serves as the point of contact for the White House in all matters relating to the Secretary's role as a presidential successor.

    In performing its responsibilities, the EO:

    • Reviews and comments on administrative policy directives from the Office of Management (OM) and implements management procedures and directives from other ED offices, OMB, OPM, and other Federal agencies.
    • Prepares briefing and background materials on controversial management and administrative matters for the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary and prepares and coordinates responses as appropriate.
    • Provides all administrative services for the employees in OS (such as space planning, human resources, property inventory control, travel, supplies, health and safety, small purchases, contracts, budget, information technology, etc.).
    • Formulates and executes the annual budget and personnel target level request and develops the annual fiscal operating plan.
    • Provides support and guidance in all areas of human resources, including: workforce analysis; organizational structure; reorganization proposals; labor and employee relations; and the personnel management system.
    • Establishes and administers a gift fund account, as well as the Secretary's reception fund.
    • Establishes systems for monitoring home-to-work transportation afforded to the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary, as appropriate, and prepares reports regarding tax implications.
    • Coordinates personnel and assignments within the Department on sensitive recruitment and placement plans, including necessary controls over the Departmental security clearance process.
    • Works closely with the White House Liaison on political appointments, as well as sensitive actions throughout the Department.
    • Responsible for records management and serves as custodian of classified documents for client offices, including the maintenance of proper protocols and secure phones and related equipment.

     

  4. Executive Secretary Staff

  5. The Executive Secretariat is the focal point in the Department of Education for tracking all correspondence and documents flowing to and from the Offices of the Secretary and for tracking and monitoring Freedom of Information Act requests to the Department.

    In performing the responsibility of document control, the immediate office of the Executive Secretariat:
    • Maintains a computerized tracking system to ensure timely preparation of reports and completion of assignments, which includes information and action memoranda for decisions by the Secretary or the Deputy Secretary; mandated obligations, including Congressional reports, bill reports to Congress and OMB, budget reports to OMB, and interagency agreements; regulatory documents; and assignments from the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary.
    • Manages a computer tracking system, which produces regular status reports for the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary on the status of assignments. Follows–up on related assignments and documents to ensure that the responsible office is functioning in a timely manner.
    • Compiles correspondence in signature books for the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary. Ensures that format and style are consistent with the requirements of the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary.
    • Ensures each Principal Office is familiar with processes and formats and for formats for documents and correspondence sent to the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary.
    • Receives all regulatory documents and all decision and information memoranda for action by the Secretary or the Deputy Secretary.
    • Reviews these documents to ensure that the proper format is followed, logs documents into the computer system, and prepares computer-tracking form.
    • Conducts special projects at the request of the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary.

    Within the Executive Secretariat are two units: the Correspondence and Communications Control Unit and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Service Center.

    In performing its responsibilities, the Correspondence and Communications Control Unit:
    • Reviews all incoming correspondence to the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary, including correspondence referred by the White House and other Federal agencies, and determines the method by which each piece of correspondence should be handled by the Department.
    • Assigns responsibility for necessary action on all correspondence and ensures that the office responsible for handling it does so in a timely manner.
    • Produces regular reports on the status of their correspondence for the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary.
    • Tracks all correspondence and assignments. Operates the Secretary's autopen machine, ensuring security in its use.
    • Processes and dispatches all correspondence signed by for Secretary and the Deputy Secretary.
    • Maintains the Secretary's and the Deputy Secretary's official files, historical records, and archives.
    • Prepares responses to correspondence when letters do not require the expertise of Department offices.
    • Forwards incoming correspondence as appropriate to other Federal agencies for response.

     

    The FOIA Service Center (Center) is responsible for ensuring agency compliance with the FOIA, including the following:

    • Operates the agency’s case management system that responds to FOIA requests
    • Advises the public and ED employees regarding FOIA requests by ensuring the prompt, courteous, efficient, and successful handling of all FOIA and Privacy Act requests received by the Department Serves as the primary office for requestors to obtain information about the status of a FOIA request and the agency’s response
    • Oversees agency compliance with FOIA management policies and operating procedures
    • Provides guidance and instruction to Department staff for the appropriate receipt, handling, and recording of FOIA and Privacy Act requests
    • Develops and provides print and web-based training to Department employees and contractors regarding FOIA
    • Furnishes reliable, accurate, and timely information on FOIA compliance as required by relevant laws, statutes, regulations and directives, including mandated reports on the status of ED's FOIA operations
    • Coordinates the disposition of all Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) appeals received by the Department.

     

  6. International Affairs

  7. The International Affairs Office is responsible for advising the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary, and Senior Officers on international issues and initiatives that may affect U.S. education or ED policies and programs.

    In performing its responsibilities, the International Affairs Office:
    • Plans analytic and comparative education studies and projects.
    • Develops ED policy regarding international activities and initiatives and coordinates the involvement of Principal Offices in international activities and projects and initiatives.
    • Develops and implements (in cooperation with other ED Principal Offices and other agencies) agreements with selected other countries in the field of education, as well as ED involvement in international organizations in the field of education.
    • Develops substantive briefing packages, talking points, and other documents for ED Senior Officers' participation in international initiatives and briefs the Secretary or other Senior Officers.
    • Coordinates and reviews the Department's international travel plan as well as all Principal Office requests for ED foreign travel.
    • Develops and maintains an ED International Education Web Site and responds to requests for information on U.S. education from foreign sources, and on foreign education systems from U.S. sources.
    • Arranges for visits by foreign educators, government officials, journalists, and others to ED.
    • Maintains the security and distribution of classified documents provided to ED by the Department of State.
    • Administers the U.S. Network for Educational Information, a specialized information service dealing with international educational exchange issues.
    • Works with other federal agencies, international organizations, educational associations, and ministries of education of foreign governments on cooperative projects and programs in international education.
    • Develops and implements interagency agreements, including agreements with the Department of State regarding foreign travel and staff located at State Department embassies.

     

  8. Office of Non-Public Education

  9. The Office of Non-Public Education is responsible for ensuring maximum participation of private students and teachers in all Federal education programs for which they are eligible. The Office reviews Department policy concerning education services to private school students and teachers, reviews Department programs and procedures to make certain that services required by law are provided, and recommends to the Secretary possible changes in laws, regulations, or policies that would increase the availability of these services.

    In performing its responsibilities, the Office:

    • Designs formal processes securing cooperation, coordination, and review of program operations to assure maximum participation by private school students.
    • Identifies data needs that describe the extent of private school student and teacher participation in federal programs and the relationship to ED programs and policies; analyzes the data; and provides information to program offices.
    • Develops guidelines and specific procedures to assure uniform application and consistent administration of statutory bypass activities and reviews all contracts for bypass services to private school students

     

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Last Modified: 01/03/2019