Department of Education

Recommendations and Actions

ED02: Reduce the Number of Programs the Department of Education Administers


Some of the 230 programs the Department of Education (ED) administers serve purposes that overlap those of other ED programs; some have achieved the purpose for which they were created; and others serve purposes that are more appropriately addressed by non-federal resources. Continued funding of these low-priority programs draw resources away from programs that serve the most urgent needs of students. The nation's priorities are defined by the six National Education Goals.(1) Although each of these programs might address the goals in some way, the savings from eliminating them could be used by other ED programs, which are better at addressing national educational priorities.

The department has three basic types of programs: (1) formula grants, which allocate funds to states, localities, or institutions based on a mathematical formula with variables related to the purpose of the program; (2) discretionary grants, which award funds based on a competitive review of application proposals; and (3) student financial aid, which includes loans and grants to assist students in attending postsecondary schools. In addition, the department is the conduit for the non-competitive allocation of federal funds to several organizations. The President has already submitted and Congress has passed a legislative package to redesign student loan programs; accordingly, this report focuses only on formula and discretionary grant programs.

The administrative costs associated with all 230 programs in the department are not easily calculated. They involve costs at all levels of government--federal, state, and local--and would include, for example, development of regulations and grant competition notices; development of applications; reporting on programs; and the monitoring and auditing of projects. Of the department's 230 programs, 160 award funds through national competitions. Competitions are held only when funds are available for new projects, so not every program holds a competition every fiscal year. Some programs award funds through multiple competitions in different programmatic priority areas. To award funds available under some of these programs, the department is expected to hold about 245 competitions in fiscal 1993.

During the legislative process, policy and legislation for new initiatives and reauthorization of existing programs are developed. Prior to the expiration of authorizing legislation, program and policy staff identify issues, review evaluation data, recommend and analyze options, conduct outside consultations, and solicit public comment. This work results in reauthorization proposals that are submitted to Congress.

An example of how the department plans to pursue consolidation of these many programs is the current effort to design the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization. The department has conducted a major effort to reshape the current legislation so that states, communities, and schools will be able to use programs flexibly, imaginatively, and effectively--not as mere categorical programs supporting piecemeal reforms, but as part of their own comprehensive efforts to move all students toward high educational standards in line with the National Education Goals.

In the ESEA reauthorization, the department has taken a number of steps to increase the flexibility of grant funds and to increase coordination of activities carried out under ED funded programs. The proposed measures include waiver authority, simplification and reduction of forms, consolidation of state plans, and reduction of auditing requirements.

During the budget process, the department identified a number of its programs that are no longer a priority for federal funds and requested no funds for them in the President's fiscal year 1994 budget submission. The department also will propose elimination or consolidation of some of these programs through the submission of reauthorization packages, particularly the ESEA.

The National Performance Review (NPR) studied the department's programs, along with the department's recommendations and information supplied by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), based on the criteria explained above. Based on this review, the NPR has developed a list of programs to eliminate or consolidate.

Examples of programs NPR recommends for elimination or consolidation and the reasons why they should no longer be supported by limited federal resources follow:

1. Congress continues to fund programs that duplicate the purpose and service provided by other programs administered by ED. For example, the National Academy of Space, Science, and Technology program and the National Science Scholars program both provide scholarships to support students studying in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering at the postsecondary level.(2)

2. Congress funds programs that have met their original goals. For example, the State Student Incentives Grants (SSIG) program was created as an incentive for states to develop their own need-based programs. Today, all 50 states have such programs. In addition, many of the states substantially overmatch the program's dollar-for-dollar federal-state matching requirement. The states provide in total about $2 billion in need-based student aid compared to the $72 million provided by the federal government under the SSIG program.(3)

3. Congress also funds programs that should be funded by non-federal dollars. For example, other non-federal sources of support, such as university endowments, are available to support activities funded under the Research Libraries program, which provides grants to major research libraries to help them strengthen their collections.(4)

A number of the department's formula grant programs serve similar educational purposes, but target discrete populations. State and local education agencies, which provide the services funded under these formula programs, must separately apply for, track, and report on the use of these funds. For example, the programs under the Drug Free Schools Act and the proposed Safe Schools Act both address the sixth National Education Goal. The sixth goal states that by the year 2000, every school in America will be free of drugs and violence and will offer a disciplined environment conducive to learning. Consolidating these programs, as the administration has proposed, would allow states and local communities to pursue the sixth national education goal in the most efficient and effective way.

Elimination and consolidation of programs would allow the department to streamline administration of its programs. Customers should, in turn, experience improved service from the department.


1. Legislation should be enacted to eliminate 34 Department of Education programs, which are duplicative of other programs, have already achieved their purpose, or are more appropriately funded through non-federal resources.

Justification for eliminating the 34 programs,
 listed below, appears in Appendix A.

Impact Aid 3(e) Payments

Ellender Fellowships (Close-Up Foundation)

Education For Native Hawaiians

Foreign Languages Assistance

Consumer and Homemaking Education

Bilingual Vocational Training

State Student Incentive Grants

Dwight D. Eisenhower Leadership Program

Cooperative Education

Assistance to Guam

Robert A. Taft Institute of Government

National Academy of Science, Space, and Technology

College Housing and Academic Facilities--New Loan Subsidies

Territorial Teacher Training

Public Library Construction

Foreign Language Materials

Library Literacy Programs

College Library Technology

Library Education and Training

Library Research and Demonstrations

Research Libraries

Foreign Periodicals Program

Impact Aid 3(b) Payments

Fund for the Improvement and Reform of Schools and Teaching (FIRST)

Educational Partnerships Program

General Assistance to the Virgin Islands

Immigrant Education

Law School Clinical Experience

Educational Improvement Partnerships: Law-Related Education

Dropout Prevention Demonstrations

Follow Through

Impact Aid-Section 2 payments

Vocational Education: Community-Based Organizations

Civics Education

2. Legislation should be enacted to consolidate the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act and the proposed Safe Schools Act programs into a single, comprehensive, flexible program for safe and drug-free schools.


These actions would reduce the number of programs administered by the Department of Education, thereby reducing the administrative burden on the department's program and staff offices. This reduced administrative burden would allow the department to focus its monitoring and assistance resources on a smaller number of programs.

The actions would also create a more cohesive and comprehensive federal educational program system aligned with the National Education Goals that would be more easily accessible to state and local education agencies, institutions of higher education, and individual students who use the system.

Fiscal Impact

Some administrative cost savings would be realized by the elimination and consolidation of these programs. However, since the Department of Education generally does not receive additional administrative funds or full-time equivalents to administer small programs such as many of these, the savings would be negligible. Staff currently working on these programs would be freed to focus on other priorities.

The savings associated with these actions total approximately $515 million from fiscal year 1995 through 1999 and would be available for programs aimed at supporting the National Education Goals.


1. The National Goals state that by the year 2000: (1) all children in America will start school ready to learn; (2) the high school graduation rate will increase to at least 90 percent; (3) American students will leave grades four, eight, and twelve having demonstrated competency in challenging subject matter, including English, mathematics, science, history, and geography; and every school in America will ensure that all students learn to use their minds well so they may be prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment in our modern economy; (4) U.S. students will be first in the world in science and mathematics achievement; (5) every adult American will be literate and will possess the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy and exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship; and (6) every school in America will be free of drugs and violence and will offer a disciplined environment conducive to learning.

2. U.S. Department of Education, 24 Programs Proposed For Zero Funding In 1994 That Were Funded in 1993 (Washington, D.C., 1993), p. 6.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

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