US Department of Education Principal Office Functional Statements
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Functional Statements > Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

A. Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary

Under the direction of the Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, this Office formulates policy, directs, and coordinates the administration of programs for: special education and services to meet the needs and develop the full potential of children with disabilities; independent living and vocational rehabilitative services to reduce human dependency and restore the productive capabilities of persons with disabilities; and rehabilitation research to enhance knowledge and improve delivery of services. These programs are organizationally located in the Office of Special Education Programs, the Rehabilitation Services Administration, and the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.

The Assistant Secretary maintains direct supervision over these three Program-level organizations. The Assistant Secretary is assisted by the Executive Administrator who is the principal assistant to the Assistant Secretary with responsibility for coordination and direction of program operations of the Office, supervision of the Staff offices, and oversight of cross-cutting program activities.


The Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary is divided into four major organizations:

Communications and Customer Services Team;
Policy and Planning Staff;
Management and Support Staff; and
Grants and Contracts Services Team.


Communications and Customer Services Team

The Communications and Customer Services Team (CCS) work unit provides centralized logistical and technical support services to meet communications and customer service needs throughout the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. It provides assistance to the three program components of OSERS and to the Office of the Assistant Secretary (OAS) in meeting component-specific communications priorities, and those that are OSERS-wide in scope.

CCS is divided into two non-organizational teams, the Customer Service Team and the Communications Team, both reporting to the CCS Director. CCS reports to the Executive Administrator of OSERS and includes the following areas of expertise:

  • graphics
  • writing and editing
  • publication development, layout, and design
  • control correspondence
  • audio-visual support, including the development of multi-media presentations upon request
  • electronic publishing
  • coordination of the production of materials in alternative formats, including foreign languages, as necessary
  • survey and market research support
  • development and maintenance of centralized OSERS mailing lists
  • information and referral

CCS develops a variety of materials, publications, and other vehicles to ensure that its customers are kept apprised of OSERS initiatives, priorities, and accomplishments. The unit is also responsible for ensuring that OSERS marketing material on the Internet is substantive and up-to-date. The unit is responsible for coordinating and overseeing the clearance of publications developed by OSERS and/or its three program components, and contracting out for CCS support needs as appropriate.

CCS maintains an inventory of all OSERS media support materials, i.e., folders, report covers, brochures, and other OSERS-developed publications currently maintained and distributed by the OAS Information Clearinghouse (the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, requires that a clearinghouse function be maintained). CCS also responds to external inquiries for information; such inquiries are tracked by CCS to determine trends and issues of concern to its various customers and constituencies.

CCS also provides support to OSERS program components in the development and production of component-specific communications products. These products will be identified by each component in coordination with communication points of contact assigned to that component, and such products will be incorporated and reflected in the OSERS-wide annual communications plan. Component-specific communications activities that utilize CCS resources are funded by that component, while those that have an OSERS-wide focus will be funded by the OAS.

CCS controls correspondence, documents receipt of all mail addressed to the Assistant Secretary or referred by the Secretary and determines if a response is required, assigns responsibility for preparing a response, and sets deadlines for completion of replies. It coordinates correspondence, memoranda, and other written messages to assure full and appropriate staff participation in decisions and serves as initial liaison and contact point for AS/OSERS with the Executive Secretariat.


Policy and Planning Staff

The Policy and Planning Staff, administered by a Director, is responsible for coordinating, monitoring, and overseeing all OSERS activities relating to policy formulation, program planning, regulations, evaluation, and grants and contract scheduling activities.

In performing its responsibilities, the Staff:


  • Develops and maintains, in codified form, a policy precedent file of decisions relating to OSERS program activities.
  • Analyzes, reviews, and comments on all policy questions and issues relating to OSERS' programs.
  • Analyzes proposed legislation of OSERS, ED, and other relevant agencies to determine the impact people with disabilities.
  • Serves as liaison with the Office of the General Counsel on policy matters requiring legal interpretation or opinion.
  • Reviews and comments on Departmental policy issues.


  • Develops a planning calendar that assures coordination of planning, budget, and evaluation inputs.
  • Coordinates with programs units and the Department on all strategic planning functions and activities.
  • Proposes and negotiates operational (1 2 year) plans with program units of OSERS.
  • Tracks plans and informs the Assistant Secretary about accomplishments and any need for revision of plans.


  • Analyzes need for regulations and proposed regulations.
  • Reviews implications for existing regulations.
  • Acts as OSERS liaison with the Departmental regulatory process.
  • Coordinates development of regulations involving OSERS programs.


  • Serves as liaison with Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs on OSERS legislative matters.
  • Prepares the annual legislative and budget priorities for transmission to the Office of Management and Budget/Chief Financial Officer.
  • Develops recommendations and analyzes implications of proposed legislation.


  • Designs, develops, and coordinates program and management evaluation plans and activities.
  • Maintains liaison with ED evaluation staff.
  • Establishes standards for evaluation activities.
  • Represents the Assistant Secretary on the Publications Review Board and other evaluation activities within OSERS and the Department.

Grants and Contracts Administration

  • Establishes and monitors the annual schedule of grant and contract activities of OSERS.
  • Reports on the achievements and problems associated with GCS scheduling meetings.
  • Provides technical assistance, guidance, and management support to OSERS' constituent agencies to assist in all matters pertaining to contracts and grants management.
  • Establishes a system of "pre funding" reviews of grants and contracts, prior to award, which permits the Assistant Secretary and other key managers to review program decisions on grants and contracts matters.


Management and Support Staff 

The Management and Support Staff, headed by a Director, provides services to OSERS in the areas of budget, audit resolution, automatic data processing, management analysis, personnel services, and administrative services.

In performing its responsibilities, the Staff:


  • Develops the OSERS program budget to reflect the aims of the Administration and the objectives of the Assistant Secretary based upon program unit input.
  • Establishes and maintains systems of financial control for OSERS.
  • Assures consistency of financial data between program units of OSERS and ED financial systems.
  • Plans and formulates the administrative budget for the Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary and for all components within the OSERS budget.
  • Approves and monitors operating plans for all components within OSERS by object class and limitation, and makes appropriate suballotment of funds to the next administrative level under the Assistant Secretary.
  • Provides administrative budget and related financial services to OSERS.
  • Serves as the Assistant Secretary's coordinator and liaison for the above matters.

Audit Resolution

  • Serves as OSERS point of contact and liaison with OIG, GCS, OGC, and FMC on all audit activities.
  • Maintains records and tracking system on all OSERS audits.
  • Develops and submits periodic reports on audit activities.
  • Advises the Assistant Secretary on audit problems and the audit resolution process.

Automatic Data Processing (ADP)

  • Develops the annual OSERS ADP budget based upon program input, and monitors and maintains controls on allocated ADP funds.
  • Implements automated data processing to assist in administrative activities.
  • Establishes criteria for installation and management of word processing systems within OSERS.
  • Represents the Assistant Secretary in relationships with other units of ED engaged in similar activities.

Management Analysis

  • Conducts studies and reviews of OSERS functions and activities to achieve efficiency and economy and improve management.
  • Serves as OSERS liaison with related ED components.

Personnel Services

  • Provides services for the processing of all personnel actions associated with OSERS.
  • Serves as the principal adviser to the Assistant Secretary on OSERS personnel management activities.
  • Establishes reporting systems and monitors and audits personnel matters in all OSERS components.
  • Reports to the Assistant Secretary on various aspects of personnel matters in all OSERS components.
  • Serves as the principal point of coordination with other units of the Department engaged in similar activities.

Administrative Services

  • Establishes and manages a system to fulfill day-to-day needs of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for a full range of traditional housekeeping services such as property, equipment, mail, and printing.
  • Oversees delegations of authority, management manual updating, and general management coordination functions.
  • Establishes and monitors the property control system for OSERS, making periodic reports on the adequacy of operations, and makes recommendations for improvements.
  • Maintains a system of space allocation, use, and control for all space assigned to OSERS.


Grants and Contracts Services Team 

The Grants and Contracts Services Team (GCST) provides centralized logistical and technical support services for discretionary grant programs in OSERS. It provides assistance to the three program components (OSEP, NIDRR, and RSA) in processing discretionary grants from application announcement development through receipt of performance reports. The team provides coordination and liaison within OSERS and with other Departmental offices.

In performing its responsibilities, the GCST:

Process planning and budgeting

  • Coordinates with other OSERS and Departmental staff in workplan development activities, including scheduling.
  • Coordinates the overall OSERS review process in collaboration with components.
  • Manages the reviewer support contract.
  • Coordinates with the Departmental Grants Policy and Oversight Staff to ensure consistency in grants and contracts policies across OSERS and maintains the OSERS grants policies and procedures manual.
  • Assists components in implementing OSERS grant-related financial policies, standards, and procedures.
  • Maintains a system for tracking grant funds through recording and monitoring obligating documents and reviewing and analyzing financial reports (currently done for OSEP only).

Application packages

  • Makes application forms and instructions short and simple.
  • Develops and maintains the OSERS application package mailing list.
  • Coordinates the development, printing, and mailing of application packages with program work teams.

Application control

  • Notifies ineligible applicants
  • Recommend and award grants
  • Maintains official grant files, including filing grant award documents.
  • Maintains work area with materials needed by program work teams to prepare grant awards and then mails packages prepared by the program work teams to the grantees.

Grant continuations and amendments

  • Rolls over prior year data and prepares and mails notices of due dates.
  • Receives, logs and forwards grant performance reports to appropriate program staff.

Grant systems

  • Offers training and technical assistance to OSERS program work teams on the use of Departmental grants systems.
  • Maintains a file of generic grant forms for program work teams to download and customize.


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Last Modified: 03/01/2005