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

Functional Statements > Office for Civil Rights

Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary

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 Office for Civil Rights includes a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement, a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Operations and Outreach, a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs, and a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management and Planning.


The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement oversees four Enforcement Divisions, each consisting of three regional locations. Each Enforcement Division is managed by an Enforcement Director, who has responsibility for coordinating the program operations and resource management of three regional offices. Each regional location has the same general organizational structure and conducts the core business, i.e., civil rights enforcement performed by Complaint Review. The members of the Enforcement Division Management Team report directly to one of the Enforcement Directors.

Regional Offices

Each regional office is managed by a Regional Director, who is supported by a Chief Attorney and a Program Manager. Investigative staff in the regional offices carry out OCR's mission by enforcing the civil rights statutes and regulations, using a variety of approaches to resolve complaint investigations and compliance reviews in order to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence.



The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy oversees OCR's coordination, development, and dissemination of program policy and the provision of legal guidance and is supported by the Program Legal Group.

Program Legal Group

The Program Legal Group (PLG) supports the Immediate Office and OCR's enforcement program on all aspects of policy development. In addition, PLG assists the Enforcement Divisions in the conduct of administrative proceedings; 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; recommends, implements, and monitors OCR's delegations of civil rights authority; and provides research and statistical support across OCR.

PLG consists of a PLG Director, a Deputy Director, and multiple Team Leaders. The PLG Director is responsible for the management of the program legal teams and coordination of program legal activities throughout OCR.

The Program Legal Group consists of four Program Legal Teams: Title VI, Disability and Rights Division, Title IX, and the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) Team.

Program Legal Teams

The Program Legal Teams address OCR strategic priorities in support of the office's enforcement efforts, for example Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), as amended/the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended; Within School Discrimination; Lau; Desegregation; Magnet Schools; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX); Testing; Vocational Education; Harassment; Parental Empowerment and other issues.

In addition, the Program Legal Teams support OCR's strategic priorities and in conjunction with the Enforcement Divisions 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 policies, regulations, and related legal concepts and case law.

Using a team approach, each of the four 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 works with 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 groups 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 groups 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 intra- 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 groups in carrying out 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 groups and civil rights organizations.


Strategic Operations and Outreach

The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Operations and Outreach oversees OCR's strategic and operational compliance, including, but not limited to, leading cross-office and inter-agency initiatives, executing tasks related to performance oversight and strategic planning within OCR and the Department, and managing public engagement for OCR.

Office of Public Engagement for Nondiscrimination (OPEN)

OPEN, led by a Director, provides support for OCR's public-facing communications, serving as a central point of contact for public information requests, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, Privacy Act (PA) requests, requests for technical assistance, and media and press questions, triaging, routing, and tracking all such inquiries. The Director manages a cross-functional team that supports all aspects of OPEN's work and provides key project-based support to other components within OCR. This team also works closely with the Chief of Staff or other designee of the Assistant Secretary in responding to media and press inquiries, as well as managing social media posts, responses, and external messaging and communication via such platforms. In addition to staff supporting the Director, OPEN has two functional teams: the Public Information Team and the Customer Service Team.

Public Information Team

The Public Information Team manages all FOIA requests, including FOIA appeals, and PA requests, received by OCR, except requests that are received and processed directly by one of OCR's regional offices. Working with the Department's FOIA Service Center, the Public Information Team locates, analyzes, and redacts responsive records to ensure compliance with the law. As OCR's expert on FOIA and related privacy and public-disclosure requirements, the Public Information Team has primary responsibility for fulfilling FOIA requests but also assists regional offices by consulting with investigative staff in the field to perfect requests and ensure the agency has adequately redacted files.

Customer Service Team

The Customer Service Team serves a core customer-service function, receiving, routing, and tracking all correspondence with external parties received by OCR, including emails received via the email inbox and any phone correspondence received via the OCR hotline.  The team coordinates with OCR and Departmental staff to resolve problems and issues and serves as a point of contact with the Secretary's Executive Secretariat. The team also maintains OCR's Electronic Library (to include publications), OCR's central mail facility, and OCR files, historical records, and archives. The team also develops recurring annual reports, monthly data reports, and ad-hoc reports, as requested by Management, as well as conducts customer service surveys to identify areas in need of improvement in OCR's customer services.


Legal Affairs

The Legal Affairs Team provides advice and technical assistance to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights on a broad range of legal matters. The team executes assignments on matters of special concern to the Assistant Secretary and serves as a point of contact to provide complete and reliable information on civil rights policies. In collaboration with the Office for Legislation and Congressional Affairs, Legal Affairs supports the execution of communications to Congress and the monitoring of the progress of civil rights­related legislation. The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs supports the strategic planning and evaluation activities for the office, along with the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Operations and Outreach, and supports the preparation of position papers, testimony, official publications, and other materials that may affect the public image of OCR. The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs also represents the views of the Assistant Secretary in contacts and negotiations with key officials of the Department, and with other federal agencies, Congressional representatives, and representatives of educational institutions, special interest groups, the press, and the general public.

Management and Planning

The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management and Planning oversees all aspects of OCR's budget development and execution, human resources management, information technology, and records retention, and is supported by the Resource Management Group.

Resource Management Group

The RMG supports the core business (civil rights enforcement) of the agency through the effective management of OCR's resources, including budget, human resources, and technology. The group is headed by the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management and Planning who coordinates with other Deputy Assistant Secretaries within OCR, as well as with the Chief of Staff, Enforcement Directors, the Director of the Program Legal Group, and the Director of Outreach, Prevention, Education, and Non-discrimination center and reports directly to the Assistant Secretary.

The group's Executive Officer (AO) reports directly to the Assistant Secretary through the Deputy Assistant Secretary. The AO has the role of the Principal Operating Group Negotiator for Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)/Labor Relations, serves as principal liaison with the Department's labor relations experts, advises the Assistant Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary on labor-management issues, and coordinates OCR negotiations on staff-related matters in collaboration with the Human Resources Team (HRT). The Resource Management Group will be divided into three teams:

  • Budget and Planning Support Team
  • Human Resources Team
  • Information Technology & Records Management Team

Budget and Planning Support 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 Assistant Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary 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, justifies, and executes OCR's Budget.
  • Provides in-depth program analyses to support budget requests, facilitates budget forecasting, evaluates ongoing expenditures, and identifies areas for cost savings.
  • Prepares briefing materials for use at Congressional hearings and for responding to Congressional inquiries on budget-related issues.
  • Develops and executes annual and quarterly financial operating plans for all headquarters and regional offices.
  • Develops budgetary policies and procedures.
  • Certifies funds 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 offices regarding sound fiscal management techniques and systems.
  • Reviews and analyzes all fiscally-oriented plans required of OCR (e.g., acquisition plans) to ensure consistency with budgetary objectives.
  • Initiates cost saving proposals based on 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 acquisitions.
  • Reviews purchase requests and procures goods and services. Responsible for ensuring that purchases are environmentally sound and energy-efficient and goods are purchased from required sources.
  • Handles travel management for all OCR offices.


Human Resource Team

The Human Resource Team (HRT) services all OCR groups, 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 to include all personnel systems, reorganizations, delegations of authority; EEO and labor relations (in collaboration with the Director's Special Assistant); employee development/non-program training activities; and timekeeping. HRT serves as OCR's audit liaison with the Office of Inspector General (OIG), General Accounting Office (GAO), and other Department and Federal Offices in reviewing or coordinating the review of audits and similar reports. Other responsibilities include procurement, Automatic Data Processing (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, and flexi-place).
  • 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 for personnel staffing needs and requirements.
  • 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 Human Resources on all reorganization matters.
  • Facilitates OCR's employee development and non-programmatic 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.
  • 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.

Technology & Record Management Team

The Technology and Records Management Team (TRMT) implements, maintains, and monitors information systems that collect data on OCR's programmatic and management activities. TRMT 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, TRMT provides automated data processing services, guidance, and support to all OCR groups. Based on the requirements of OCR's Strategic Plan, TRMT makes recommendations to the Assistant Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary concerning OCR's long-range technological needs and develops and implements the plan.

TRMT also manages and coordinates all aspects of OCR's official records management processes, to include records retention, storage, disposition, and destruction, and engagement with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Federal Records Center (FRC).

Using a team approach, TRMT:

  • 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 groups 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.
  • Manages websites, web-accessible links, and various electronic resources, in accordance with 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA), which establishes requirements for agencies to modernize websites, web-based forms, and applications, and Congressional reports; and manages all of OCR's electronic resources according to the requirements outlined in the Executive Order on Improving the Nation's Cybersecurity.
  • Oversees OCR's Records Management Process, ensures OCR staff are fully trained and briefed on Information Management protocols, Comprehensive Records Schedules, the handling of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), and any relevant Standard Operating Procedures.
  • Oversees the process of accession, namely transferring physical and legal custody of permanent records from federal agencies to the NARA.
  • In coordination with the OCIO and OGC, engages with NARA and FRC to manage, process, and oversee actions related to OCR case files.
  • Provides guidance and support to OCR staff as it relates to policies and processes associated with the proper handling of official records. Engages with the regional office record managers and facilitates the life cycle records management process across OCR, to include creating, tracking, and managing electronic records in OCR's records management system.
  • Manages and updates OCR Headquarters and Regional Information Inventories.


Last Modified: 08/31/2022