Office of the Secretary
- Mission and Responsibilities
- Duties and Functions of the Secretary
- Order of Succession
- Duties and Functions of the Immediate Office of the Secretary
- Duties and Functions of Subunits in the Office of the Secretary
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.
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.
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 Strategy, Office of the Secretary
- Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Programs, Office of the Secretary
- Deputy General Counsel, Program Service, Office of the General Counsel
- Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Finance and Operations
In instances where the office is not vacant, but all 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.Top
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 Strategy (DCoSS), the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Programs (DCoSPP), and the Senior Advisor(s).
i. 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 Strategy, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Programs, and the International Affairs subunit.
ii. Duties and Functions of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy
The DCoSS provides guidance and direction on a wide range of issues, including strategy, operations, budget, equity, and higher education and workforce policy. The DCoSS provides guidance and direction to Senior Advisors, the White House Initiatives, the Office of Management and Planning, the International Affairs Office, 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.
iii. Duties and Functions for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Programs
The DCoSPP provides guidance and direction on a wide range of issues, including strategy, operations, budget, and PK-12 education policy. The DCoSPP provides guidance and direction to Senior Advisors, Special Assistants, and the Scheduling and Advance Staff.
iv. Duties and Functions of Senior Advisors
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.Top
i. 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.
ii. Office of Management and Planning
The Office of Management and Planning is responsible for the development and implementation of operational policies and procedures related to management and administrative functions, including direction of Office-wide management improvement initiatives. The two components of the Office of Management and Planning are the Executive Office and the Office of Events Management and Partnerships.
The Office of Management and Planning is led by a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management and Planning, who advises the OS Chief of Staff and OS Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy on matters related to the two organizational units and represents OS at meetings, when appropriate.
iii. Executive Office
The Executive Office (EO) 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 Finance and Operations (OFO) 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.
iv. Office of Events Management and Partnerships
The Office of Events Management and Partnerships provides policy, instruction, and logistical support for ED-hosted conferences, events, and exhibits. The division is responsible for advising ED’s Program Offices and senior officials on conference-related fiscal responsibilities and legislative requirements, as well as providing guidance on methods and planning techniques to create cost-effective events. The Division provides oversight of conference and event-related policies, directives, training, and internal controls processes; gift funds and in-kind gift solicitation and acquisition processes; logistics and event-planning facilitation and staffing; and the student art exhibition program and space as well as the Department’s permanent art collection.
v. Office of the Executive Secretariat
The Executive Secretariat is the focal point in the Department of Education for tracking all correspondence and documents flowing to and from the Secretary.
The Executive Secretariat is the focal point in the Department of Education for tracking all official correspondence and decision documents requiring the Secretary’s or Chief of Staff’s signature or approval. They are also the primary liaison to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for the Department and responsible for ensuring timely responses to GAO draft and final reports. Within the Executive Secretariat there are two work units – a Communications Team and an Operations Team.
- Maintains a document management system to ensure timely assignment, tracking and delivery of the Secretary’s correspondence; coordination/clearances of responses; decision memoranda by the Secretary or designee; mandated obligations, including Congressional reports, reports for OMB, and interagency agreements; regulatory documents; and other policy documents and guidance.
- Prepares correspondence for signature by the Secretary or designee or that require approval by the Chief of Staff and ensures high-quality, fully coordinated documents with format and style that are consistent with Department requirements.
- Receives all regulatory documents and all decision and information memoranda for action by the Secretary or designee.
- Reviews these documents to ensure that the proper format is followed, logs documents into the computer system, and ensures documents are cleared through appropriate offices and stakeholders in the Department and tracked to completion.
- Ensures each Principal Office is familiar with Secretary-level document formats and correspondence processes.
- Conducts special projects at the request of the Secretary or designee.
- Reviews all incoming correspondence addressed to the 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.
- Tracks gifts and books sent to the Secretary.
- Processes retirement and length of service certificates signed by the Secretary.
- Operates the Secretary's autopen machine, use of scanned signatures, and digital autopen ensuring security in their use.
- Processes and dispatches all correspondence signed by the Secretary.
- Maintains the 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.
- Handles records administration for the Secretary’s official files.
- Performs all System Owner responsibilities, including cybersecurity, procurement, and budget analysis.
- Develops and conducts training for office and Department stakeholders.
- Develops and maintains standard operating procedures for office and Department processes.
vi. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Service Center
The FOIA Service Center (FSC) is responsible for ensuring agency compliance with the FOIA, including the following:
- Oversees agency compliance with FOIA management policies and operating procedures.
- 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.
- Provides guidance and instruction to Department staff for the appropriate receipt, handling, and recording of FOIA and Privacy Act requests.
- Develops and provides 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 FOIA appeals received by the Department.
vii. International Affairs Office
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 Website 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.
White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities
The White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities (Initiative), Executive Order 14049, signed on October 11, 2021, was originally established as the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) in 1996. The Initiative continued through the George W. Bush Administration and expanded in 2011 as the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education to include all Native American students, including students attending public schools in cities and in rural areas, tribally controlled schools, students attending schools operated and funded by Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education, and students attending postsecondary schools, including TCUs. The Initiative serves to represent tribal governments and communities and strengthens the nation by expanding educational opportunities and improving educational outcomes for all Native American students. The Initiative strives to fulfill the commitment to furthering tribal self-determination and to help ensure that Native American students have an opportunity to learn their Native languages and histories and receive complete and competitive educations that prepare them for college, careers, and productive and satisfying lives.
The Initiative is committed to improving educational opportunities for students attending TCUs. TCUs maintain, preserve, and restore Native languages and cultural traditions; offer a high-quality college education; provide career and technical education, job training, and other career-building programs; and often serve as anchors in some of the country’s poorest rural areas. In performing its function, the Initiative’s staff:
- Works closely with the Executive Office of the President to help ensure Native American participation in the development and implementation of key administration priorities.
- Strengthens the relationship between the Department of Education and the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Education.
- Coordinates with the Department of Education’s Director of the Office of Indian Education, programs administered by the Department of Education and other executive branch agencies regarding Native American education.
- Serves as a liaison with other executive branch agencies on Native American issues.
- Coordinates frequent tribal consultations with tribal officials.
- Provides support for the National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE).
- Reports on the development, implementation, and coordination of education policy and programs that affect Native American students.
- Develops, with tribal agencies, a more outlined and streamlined process for entering into agreements for educational studies conducted on tribal lands.
- Establishes a national network to share the best practices in Native American education that prepares students for college, careers, and civic involvement.
- Provides proactive steps to preserve and strengthen Native languages.
- Promotes tribal sovereignty by supporting efforts to build the capacity of tribal educational agencies and TCUs.
- Implements the Department of Education Tribal Consultation Policy.
The White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans
The White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans (Initiative), Executive Order 14050, signed on October 19, 2021, is responsible for improving educational outcomes for Black Americans of all ages and helping to ensure that this population receives an education that prepares them for college and productive careers to contribute to the well-being of society. The Initiative works with individuals and organizations throughout the country to highlight and share effective national and local programs, policies, and practices that support the development and success of Black American students. The Initiative oversees the Department’s implementation of the executive order that is designed to improve federal efforts to develop, monitor, and coordinate executive branch efforts to improve the quality of life of Black Americans through increased participation in Federal programs. In performing its responsibilities, the staff:
Identifies evidence-based practices that improve student achievement with a focus on:
- Highlighting the role of educators and administrators in increasing and improving access to high-quality learning opportunities while also finding ways to support them in their work.
- Supporting efforts to increase the number of Black American teachers and administrators, specifically the number of Black American males in the profession.
- Enhancing investments in high-quality early care and education programs, specifically increasing the number of Black American children enrolled in quality childcare and preschool programs.
- Reinforcing connections to rigorous K-12 courses and increasing access to critical supports, including by strengthening relationships between schools and communities and local businesses, social service agencies, health care providers, and parent and volunteer organizations.
- Helping to increase the number of Black American students applying to, persisting in, and successfully completing college.
- Provides platforms for Black American youth (and other impacted populations) to make recommendations regarding the policies, practices, and programs designed to accelerate learning and development.
- Highlights and disseminates promising and proven practices, programs, and policies facilitating the learning and development of Black American students.
- Serves as a liaison between and among communities supporting Black American students of all ages.
- Leverages relationships with media partners, new and traditional, to shape positive and affirming narratives of Black American students.
- Provides recommendations to accelerate Black American educational excellence essential to the success of Black American students, from birth through college completion and career entry.
- Develops and implements activities designed to respond to specific mandates of the Executive Order.
- Provides advice and assistance to the President’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans.
- Serves as the focal point for collection of federal agency plans that are designed to improve the quality of life of Black Americans through increased participation in federal programs where Black Americans may be unrepresented.
The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (Office), established by Executive Order 14015, February 14, 2021, is responsible for providing recommendations on the Administration’s policy agenda affecting faith-based and community programs. The Office advances this work through Centers and staff at other federal agencies across government.
The Office is supported at the Department through the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (CFBNP). The CFBNP primary goals are: to assist in organizing more effective efforts to serve people in need across the country and around the world, in partnership with civil society, including faith-based and secular organizations; to develop, lead, and coordinate the Administration’s policy agenda affecting faith-based and other community programs and initiatives and to optimize the role of such efforts in communities; to ensure that policy decisions and programs throughout the Federal Government are consistent with the policy set forth in section 1 of Executive Order 14015 with respect to faith-based and other community initiatives; to bring concerns, ideas, and policy options to Administration leadership for assisting, strengthening, and replicating partnerships, whether financial or nonfinancial, with faith-based and other community organizations; and to promote awareness among diverse civil society leaders of opportunities to partner - both financially and otherwise - with the Federal Government to serve people in need and to build institutional capacity. The CFBNP shares information with its stakeholders to ensure they are aware of the many opportunities across the Department that enable organizational capacity building and improve student outcomes.Top
White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics
The White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics, Executive Order 14045, signed on September 13, 2021, is responsible for the Department’s implementation of the Initiative which is designed to improve federal efforts to promote quality education for Hispanics. In performing its responsibilities, the staff:
- Develops and implements activities designed to respond to specific mandates of the Executive Order.
- Promotes the educational priorities of the administration and the U.S. Secretary of Education.
- Provides staff support to the President’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics.
- Administers the Federal Interagency Working Group on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics to share educational priorities and resources from over 30 federal agencies.
- Convenes stakeholders to promote private-public partnerships and highlight effective practices that improve the quality of education for Hispanics.
The White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities
The White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Executive Order 14041 of September 3, 2021, oversees a comprehensive government wide initiative of analytic and capacity building activities designed to enhance the participation of historically black colleges and universities in all Federally sponsored programs. In consultation with the appropriate authorities, the staff monitors annual efforts by the heads of executive agencies in order to increase access to funding resources that improve the capabilities of historically black colleges and universities.
In performing its responsibilities, the staff:
- Reviews legislation, regulations, procedures, and practices of all executive agencies.
- Notifies heads of executive agencies of potential regulatory or procedural barriers that hamper the participation of historically black colleges and universities in the particular agency's programs.
- Reviews program assessment studies conducted under government auspices to measure progress toward the elimination of procedural and regulatory barriers.
- Develops and implements a program information system to keep historically black colleges and universities apprised of all Federal programs from which they might benefit.
- Supports Executive Director in preparation of an annual report to the President on the levels of participation by historically black colleges and universities and makes appropriate recommendations for improving the Federal effort.