Department of Education

Richard W. Riley, Secretary

Mission Statement

The mission of the Department of Education is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation. To accomplish this, the Department of Education will:

Summary Budget Information

FY 1993 (Actual) FY 1996 (Budgeted)
Budget Staff Budget Staff
31.471 billion 4,876 $30.385 billion 4,750

Reinvention Highlights

The Fort Worth Independent School District launched top-to-bottom reforms at four inner-city elementary schools marked by a very high percentage of financially and academically disadvantaged students. When school officials needed financial assistance for this effort and flexibility in how the money was spent, they turned to the U.S. Department of Education.

Fort Worth received from the reinvented Department of Education a waiver of federal regulations, providing extra money for disadvantaged students in exchange for higher expectations in student performance. To enhance student achievement, Fort Worth is now trying an array of reforms: lengthening the school year, intensifying instruction in reading and math, providing extensive training for teachers, and strengthening the schools' links to their communities.

The waiving of federal regulations as a means of encouraging school improvement efforts is just one example of how the Department of Education is simplifying federal programs without sacrificing accountability and results.

The direct loan program, a streamlined alternative to the current guaranteed loan program, typifies our focus on the customer. In direct lending, federal funds are electronically transferred to students via their campus financial aid office, eliminating the complicated involvement of federally subsidized banks and other financial institutions. The direct loan program simplified loan application procedures, resulting in less paperwork for colleges and quicker and more accurate payments to students. Students also benefit from the broadest array of repayment options available anywhere.

The Department provides colleges that participate in direct lending with computer software and an on-line connection to the Department to expedite the delivery of funds to students. For the first time in the history of student lending, on-line, real-time information is available to help us serve customers better and ensure accountability in the loan program. Response among colleges enlisted in the program has been very positive, as shown by surveys conducted by the Department and the media. On a related front, an increasingly vigilant focus and the availability of new legal options enabled the Department to drive up collections on defaulted student loans from $879 million in 1990 to $1.9 billion in 1995.

To an unprecedented degree, the Department's employees are united in pursuit of a shared goal: reinventing the Department under a "less is more" approach. With fewer regulations, the Department's customers gain greater flexibility. With fewer supervisory employees, front-line employees have greater decisionmaking powers in serving customers. With fewer levels in the Department's organizational chart, more employees are at the reinvention table, increasing the chance for continuity in the educational improvement efforts now being implemented.

One effort that cultivated input from every level of the Department is the Low-Hanging Apples Team, a squad of career employees named for the apples on the lowest branches of the tree -- the ones that are the ripest and easiest to pick. In reinvention terms, this means identifying unnecessary and burdensome red tape that impedes work progress but can easily be eliminated or changed. The fruits of this team's labor include more than 100 streamlining recommendations, including the abolition of excessive reviews, the elimination of unnecessary personnel paperwork, and better use of technology.

Less Paperwork for Everyone. The Department is meeting its commitment to the President, under his regulatory reform initiative, by eliminating or reinventing our regulations. To date, 1,699 pages have been eliminated or reinvented, with an additional 285 pages planned for elimination or reinvention by September 1996.

Future regulatory efforts will be guided by my commitment as Secretary to "regulate only when necessary and then with as much sensitivity and as little burden as possible." Clinton Administration initiatives reflect this approach -- the Goals 2000: Educate America Act and the School to Work Opportunities Act have no new regulations at all.

The Department's streamlined approach to regulation, combined with advancements in technology, is easing the paperwork burden for America's schools and colleges. The Goals 2000 school reform grant application is just four pages long, a feat of simplicity that was honored with a National Performance Review Hammer Award. States are encouraged to submit a single consolidated application for all of their elementary and secondary programs in the Improving America's Schools Act.

Recognizing that information is one of the most valued products that the Department offers, we are making the Department a world-class clearinghouse for education information. Our toll-free phone numbers offer easy access for people to order Department publications, receive a referral to the correct office within the Department, or obtain student financial aid information. The Department's World Wide Web site -- recognized by Internet World magazine as one of the most useful education resources on the Internet -- and on-line bulletin board systems provide information.

The Department also restructured its grants process to eliminate unnecessary requirements and improve the timeliness of grantee notification. We cut the number of steps taken to make a discretionary grant by 50 percent, the processing time by 25 percent, and the notification time by as much as three months. We also eliminated annual submission of continuation applications and the annual negotiation of 6,000 continuation grants.

Union of Labor and Management. Among the most vivid displays of stronger collaboration within the Department is the formation of its first-ever Labor-Management Partnership Council. When the Clinton Administration took office, labor-management relations at the Department were at an all-time low. Today, labor and management have an ongoing dialogue about all issues affecting both policy and personnel.

The 12-member council draws its roster equally from management and labor representatives. The council is playing a major role in reinvention by helping shape changes in areas such as employee performance appraisal, reward, and incentive programs; and employee training and development. More significantly, the council has provided a permanent framework to tackle head-on problems that once festered because of historically poor labor-management relations. The involvement of our most senior-level officials in the council's creation and operations is an important symbol of the Department's commitment to the partnership.


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