Department of Education FY 2009 E-Government Act Report
December 28, 2009
Archived Information

Section 1 - Transparency, Engagement, and Innovation

1. Describe major transparency initiatives undertaken in the past year and major transparency initiatives planned for the coming year.

The Department of Education has undertaken the following transparency initiatives in the past year:

The Department plans to undertake the following:

  • The Department is building capacity to gather feedback more systematically and for group writing and editing by developing a robust infrastructure to support bulletin boards and wikis;
  • The agency is providing internal offices with a more flexible technical infrastructure for posting news and information about conferences, papers, guidance, and resources;
  • And the agency is developing a streamlined and more efficient way of keeping Web information up to date on Department programs.
2. Do you have an innovation you would like to share with the public and the Federal workforce on the Innovations Gallery?

The Department has the following innovations for the Gallery:

  • The Department challenged YouTube visitors in the “I Am What I Learn” contest to create a video explaining why education is important to fulfilling their dreams: http://www.youtube.com/user/usedgov. Winners were announced live via a national town hall meeting with students in December 2009. Students were able to ask questions via telephone, email and video during the town hall meeting.
  • Education Secretary Arne Duncan is reaching out to the public in a new way via his Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/SecretaryArneDuncan.
  • www.free.ed.gov makes it easier to find teaching and learning resources from across the federal government.
3. How many datasets does your agency have on data.gov?


4. Describe your progress in complying with OMB requirements to post all spending data on USAspending.gov.

The Department submits contracts and financial assistance data to USAspending.gov in accordance with procedures and elements detailed in OMB memorandum M-09-19. The Department began using the updated procedures June 5, 2009, and continues to send all assistance and contracts data twice a month. Data validations are conducted with each submission, and data quality measures published on the USAspending.gov site are monitored and improved continually.

5. What tools is your agency using to advance citizen participation and engagement? Cite examples of how the agency has used citizen feedback.

The Department launched a blog in April 2009 to support the Secretary’s Listening and Learning Tour: http://www.ed.gov/blog/topic/listening-tour/. The agency asked in the blog some of the same questions the Secretary asked during his travels to some 30 states: Should academic standards be raised, and if so, how? What education challenges do rural communities face? http://www.ed.gov/blog/topic/join-the-conversation/. Feedback is being used to inform agency thinking in preparation for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

6. Is your agency currently meeting all reporting requirements of M-09-19? If not, what are your plans for becoming compliant?

Yes, the Department is on track for compliance with the requirements of M-09-19 to post spending data on USAspending.gov.

Section 2 - Information & Information Technology Management

1. How has the IT Dashboard impacted the investment management process at your agency?

Dashboard requirements have resulted in a more frequent collection of current data for milestones for all major investments. Milestones in the business case are now updated monthly by the project managers, so the 2010 business cases have stayed more current. The Dashboard requirement for CIO evaluations allowed the opportunity to use existing Independent Program Reviews (IPRs) and Select Phase assessments as a means to evaluate the major investments. CIO evaluations are revisited when investments make progress in any of the measurement areas. Investments are rescored, and in some cases, the CIO evaluation on the IT Dashboard is updated as a result of the progress made.

2. Describe your agency’s efforts in complying with reporting requirements for the IT Dashboard;

The major investment milestones on the Dashboard have been updated monthly since September 2009. Based on OMB guidance, CIO evaluations were completed and posted on the Dashboard in July 2009. The CIO evaluation rating for several investments has changed since the initial rating, based on improved practices. The Department plans to begin updating performance metrics and acquisition data on the Dashboard in January 2010. Milestone data in both the investment business case and the Dashboard are updated each month. CIO evaluations are recalculated based on the completion of corrective action plan items via the IPR.

3. Describe the process your agency is using to apply CIO Evaluations for your major IT investments;

The evaluation criteria for CIO evaluations was developed using the framework provided by OMB (in the Dashboard Frequently Asked Questions). Existing activities were used to develop the scoring for the evaluations. CIO evaluations are determined using assessments and scoring from two areas: Select Phase business case assessments and IPRs. The Department’s Planning and Investment Working Group reviews and scores all major investments during the Select Phase. Annually, an IPR is performed for each major investment. The current CIO evaluations reflect the 2011 Select Phase and IPRs performed during 2009. The CIO evaluations were posted on the Dashboard in July 2009 and have subsequently been updated based on improvements made by implementing corrective action plan items relating to the IPR.

4. Provide your agency’s Information Resources Management (IRM) Strategic Plan and EA Transition Plan;

The Department's IRM Strategic Plan is posted on ED.gov:
download files MS Word (735KB)
download files PDF (570KB)

The Department's EA Transition Plan is posted on ED.gov:
download files MS Word (3.2MB)
download files PDF (1.3KB)

5. Outline the progress of integrating the Enterprise Architecture (EA) and Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) processes and policies;

Both EA and CPIC activities are supported using the business segment framework. EA and CPIC liaisons are assigned to one or more of the Department’s 13 business segments. Liaisons work directly with segment owners and project managers within the segment to conduct EA and CPIC activities. EA and CPIC hold joint briefings and training sessions with segment owners, project managers, and with the first-line review board (the Department’s Planning and Investment Working Group). In September 2009, a single acquisition began to support both the EA and CPIC activities. All activities performed by EA and CPIC are coordinated, with cross-cutting reviews of all artifacts produced. The principal CPIC and EA staff meet weekly and work from a single task list of activities, with specific integration activities highlighted as a separate task area.

6. Provide the status and maturity of your modernization roadmap (segment architecture) activity including use by major programs and alignment on shared target architectures;

The Department’s segment architecture activity is well defined and managed using an IT governance process that fully integrates Enterprise Architecture and Capital Planning and Investment Control. The Department’s IT portfolio is composed of 13 segment architectures representing agency lines of business. Each segment has its own performance goals, objectives and measures. These segment performance plans are consolidated into the Enterprise Transition Plan (ETP), which describes the overall plan for the Department to achieve its target, or “To-Be” future state, vision in three to five years. The ETP links proposed ED investments to the target architecture and is used to track investment performance through clearly defined milestones and associated performance metrics. The ETP is aligned with the IRM Strategic Plan, which is the Department’s five-year technology modernization roadmap; it identifies the common enabling services that are to be shared across segment architectures.

7. For each E-Gov initiative, provide the final determinations, priorities, and schedules. Also include your agency’s information dissemination product catalogs, directories, inventories, and any other management tools used to improve the dissemination of and access to your agency’s information by the public;

The Department is committed to providing its full range of information to the public. A primary vehicle for doing so is the Department's main Web site, ED.gov. ED.gov offers regularly updated information on the administration's priorities as well as ED grants and contracts, federal student financial aid, education research and statistics, and agency policy, and programs (please see www.ed.gov). The Department developed an inventory of website content, http://www.ed.gov/notices/egovinventory.html, as required by Section 207(f)(2) of the E-Government Act of 2002. The Department also offers a one-stop system for ordering its publications (http://edpubs.ed.gov/), an array of e-newsletters (http://www.ed.gov/news/newsletters/index.html), and an RSS feed (http://www.ed.gov/news/newsletters/rssnewsfeed.html)

8. Provide your agency’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) handbook, the link of your agency’s primary FOIA website, and the website link where frequent requests for records are made available to the public;

The Department's primary FOIA website is:

The Department provides a link from its primary FOIA website to the DOJ FOIA Guide publication:

The Department provides information to assist requesters to "make a FOIA request." The web address for "How to Make a Request" is:

The Department's "frequently requested records" Web page is:

9. Describe in brief your agency efforts to comply with Section 508 in regards to information management;

The Department of Education has made a commitment to support its obligation under Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, to ensure the accessibility of its programs and activities to individuals with disabilities. The Assistive Technology Program provides assistive technology solutions to disabled employees at the Department and also ensures that the agency’s electronic and information systems are accessible to employees and members of the public with disabilities.

The Department adheres to Requirements for Accessible Electronic and Information Technology (E&IT) Design [http://www.ed.gov/fund/contract/apply/clibrary/software.html], which address the accessibility needs that must be considered when designing and developing E&IT for the Department, and the guide Testing for Web Accessibility Compliance Under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which provides concrete instructions for implementing the accessibility requirements.

10. Provide a list of your agency’s public websites disseminating research and development (R&D) information to the public, and whether or not each website provides the public information about federally funded R&D activities and/or provides the results of Federal research;

The Department's primary Web site, ED.gov, hosts a portal page that serves as the starting point to ED research and statistics information (please see http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/landing.jhtml). The main ED organization that supports ED research and statistics is the Institute of Education Sciences (please see http://ies.ed.gov/).

11. Provide an inventory of formal agency agreements (e.g., contracts, memorandum of understanding, partnerships) with external entities (e.g., partnerships with State and local governments, public libraries, industry and commercial search engines) complementing your agency’s information dissemination program, with a brief explanation of how each agreement improves the access to and dissemination of government information to the public; and

Besides http://www.ed.gov, http://ies.ed.gov, http://studentaid.ed.gov/, the agency's main sources of information for the public, the Department has contracted for the following to complement its information dissemination program:

  • EDpubs, http://edpubs.ed.gov/webstore/Content/search.asp, and FSAPubs, http://www.fsapubs.gov/, are intended to help customers identify and order U.S. Department of Education products. All publications are provided at no cost to the general public by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), http://eric.ed.gov/, provides free access to more than 1.2 million bibliographic records of journal articles and other education-related materials and, if available, includes links to full text.
  • What Works Clearinghouse, http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/, provides educators, policymakers, researchers, and the public with a central and trusted source of scientific evidence of what works in education.
  • Doing What Works, http://dww.ed.gov/, provides effective teaching practices and examples of possible ways to implement them. These practices have been found to be effective by the Department's Institute of Education Sciences and similar organizations.
  • College.gov, http://www.college.gov/, aims to motivate students with inspirational stories and information about planning, preparing and paying for college.

The Department has the following cooperative agreements:

  • Students.gov, http://www.students.gov/STUGOVWebApp/Public, is an official U.S. government Web site designed for college students and their families. Its mission is to provide students and their families with easy access to information and resources from the U.S. government – all the info they need, in one place, from all parts of the government.
  • Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE), http://free.ed.gov, makes it easier to find teaching and learning resources from the federal government. More than 1,500 federally supported teaching and learning resources are included from dozens of federal agencies. New sites are added regularly.
  • Opportunity.gov, http://federalstudentaid.ed.gov/opportunity/questions.html, is a partnership with the Department of Labor to highlight education and training opportunities for unemployed Americans.
12. Provide an inventory that describes your agency’s NARA-approved records schedule(s) or the link to the publicly-posted records schedule(s), and a brief explanation of your agency’s progress to implement NARA Bulletin 2006-02. For the brief explanation please report the number of systems for which a record schedule was submitted to NARA in FY 2008 and the number of systems still requiring records schedules.

The Department's Comprehensive Records Disposition Schedule is available at:

All of the Department’s electronic information systems are currently covered by applicable records retention schedules, as required by NARA Bulletin 2006-02.

Section 3 - Implementation of E-Government Initiatives

1. Describe the initiative, the methodology for identification of the initiative, and how the initiative is transforming agency operations.

The Department of Education’s Grants Electronic Monitoring System (GEMS) is implementing a new “e-Folder” to store all grant records electronically. This records management application will be used by 150 users in the Office of Postsecondary Education and pilot tested by 50 users in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. These two offices manage more than 7,000 open grants, both formula and discretionary, that represent nearly $10 billion in obligated funding.

Currently, the majority of documents for each grant are submitted in electronic format, but they are then printed and placed in a hard copy file. For each grant, the application, grant award notification, peer review comments, performance reports, communications, and other related documents must be printed and filed. This recordkeeping method is inefficient and wastes staff time and resources.

The application meets the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) requirements for an electronic recordkeeping system as a system in which records are collected, organized, and categorized to facilitate their preservation, retrieval, use, and disposition (36 CFR 1234.2). It also meets the requirements of DOD 5012.2-STD Design Criteria Standard for Electronic Records Management Software Applications.

This new initiative will provide the following benefits:

  • Increase access to important grant documents;
  • Improve methods for ensuring accountability;
  • Increase staff efficiency; and
  • Save costs on printers, paper, and storage space.

The information in the GEMS e-Folder will be used to:

  • Monitor progress in meeting grant objectives;
  • Justify the continuation of grants;
  • Measure performance outcomes;
  • Respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and information requests from members of Congress, the Office of Inspector General (OIG), and the General Accountability Office (GAO);
  • Satisfy Government Performance and Results Act and Program Assessment Rating Tool reporting requirements;
  • Maintain grant records as required; and
  • Archive grant records as required.

The decision to develop an e-Folder originated during the Office of Postsecondary Education’s IT Business Transformation Initiative in 2007. A committee was convened to discuss ways to better coordinate the office’s IT investments, share information, and improve efficiency. In partnership with the Office of the Chief Information Officer’s Enterprise Architecture staff, an inventory was conducted of the office’s grant-related IT systems. The inventory showed that integrating them into one system was neither feasible nor desirable since each served varying program-specific needs. However, management and staff expressed a frustration that grant documents were stored in many different systems and were difficult to access. To respond to this need, a grant e-Folder was discussed. The solution recommended by Enterprise Architecture was to adopt HP TRIM Context, a COTS records management application being used in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, to store all grant documents in one location. TRIM has been integrated with GEMS, which is a system already used by staff to electronically monitor their grants. Adding an additional component to an existing system has made it easier to gain user acceptance.

2. Quantify the cost savings and cost avoidance achieved through implementing the initiative (e.g., reducing or eliminating other investments in information technology;

The GEMS e-Folder will be fully implemented in January 2010. Cost savings will be fully realized when all open grants have electronic records. Many multi-year grants have existing hard copy files, which will not be scanned. Record-keeping will be electronic for all grants made in FY 2010 and onward.

The GEMS program office has estimated that the Department will save $485,072 annually beginning in FY2011 by replacing the paper-based recordkeeping method for the Offices of Postsecondary Education and Elementary and Secondary Education. These savings will increase as this system is rolled out to additional offices across the Department. Eliminating paper archival storage alone is estimated to save an estimated $226,666.00 annually. E- Folders will also improve staff productivity by saving an estimated 7,360 staff hours annually (approximately 3.5 FTE) in the areas of processing official grant documentation and responding to information requests.

3. Explain how your agency maintains an ongoing dialogue with interested parties to find innovative ways to use information technology for the initiative;

The Department’s Office of Postsecondary Education has met regularly with other principal offices to demonstrate GEMS and offer it as a potential solution for their grant staff. The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education decided to pilot test GEMS e-Folder in FY10 for three divisions and 50 new users. The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services is currently considering adopting GEMS e-Folder as well.

Staff have collaborated with the Office of the Chief Information Officer to plan the implementation of electronic signature technology in FY10 that will allow grant award notifications to be digitally signed and emailed to grantees. The grant award notification document is currently printed up in hard copy three times and signed by hand. A notification must be issued when a new award is made, when a continuation award is given, and any time there is a change to the grant, such as new personnel or an extension of the performance period. The Office of Postsecondary Education has estimated that staff print and sign approximately 17,000 notifications each year, a significant burden. With the advent of electronic signatures, staff time and resources will be saved, and the notification will be stored automatically in the grant e-folder.

The agency’s Regulatory Information Management Services has provided careful guidance on how to develop the system so that it meets all Federal requirements for an electronic recordkeeping system. Regular meetings have been convened to discuss how the records retention schedule will be implemented and how records will be archived to meet NARA standards.

An advisory committee was formed in March 2009 to develop the requirements for the GEMS e-Folder. This committee was made up of representatives from all the grant program areas. The members met every two weeks for four months to provide input into the design and formulate the requirements. They then tested the system and validated the requirements.

GEMS users are consulted regularly for ideas about improvements. The system has a feedback function in which users can immediately send a suggestion for an enhancement to the development staff.

4. Identify improved performance (e.g., outcome measures, quantifiable business impact) by tracking performance measures supporting agency objectives and strategic goals;

GEMS e-Folder supports the agency’s cross-goal strategy on Management Objective 1: Maintain and strengthen financial integrity and management and internal controls. The system will dramatically improve grants management by allowing all records to be accessible electronically.

There will be a business impact on more than 7,000 grants that represent nearly $10 billion. Staff will have access to important documents, efficiency will be improved, and cost savings will be realized on printers, paper, and storage space.

5. Explain how this initiative ensures the availability of government information and services for those without access to the Internet and for those with disabilities;

Compliance with Section 508 is required in the development of the system. The system has undergone rigorous 508 compliance testing to ensure that customers with disabilities can successfully access and use the system.

6. Identify external partners (e.g., Federal, State or local agencies, industry) who collaborate on the initiative;


7. Explain how the project applies effective capital planning and investment control procedures;

All information technology investments participate in the Department’s Select Phase. The segment owner assigned to the Grants segment, in which GEMS resides, reviews the Grants portion of the portfolio to look for opportunities for consolidation and reuse. During the 2011 Select Phase, the segment owner brought together several stakeholders (including GEMS) to understand their systems and determine where funding would best be placed for greater maturity and efficiency for the Department. The segment owner then presented these funding recommendations to the review board (Planning and Investment Working Group). The segment owner reported on both the performance of the segment over the last year, and each major IT investment project manager reported on the performance of their investments, along with their funding recommendations and justifications.

8. Describe the established business process your agency has in place for the continued ongoing process of identification of initiatives;

The Department’s Investment Review Board (IRB) was established under the authority of the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996; the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995; Office of Management and Budget Circular A-130 (Management of Federal Information Resources); and other applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

The IRB is a forum for deliberation about Department information technology (system and resource) investments needed to achieve the Department’s mission and business requirements.

The IRB advises the Secretary through the Deputy Secretary to ensure that the Department:

  • Maximizes the value, and assesses and manages the risk and costs, of all information system investments;
  • Integrates information system investment decisions with the Department’s mission, strategic plan, budget, and enterprise architecture;
  • Focuses on the entire life cycle of information system investments, including vision, definition, construction, validation, implementation, operation and maintenance, and disposal;
  • Makes information resource investment decisions based on business needs and processes;
  • Emphasizes and monitors performance and results in information resource investments;
  • Establishes investment review schedules and monitors these investments throughout the Control Phase of the IT investment management process;
  • Recommends corrective actions for IT investments that are not performing in accordance with established cost, schedule, or technical performance parameters;
  • Identifies opportunities to minimize duplicative or overlapping information systems across the Department;
  • Identifies common IT issues and recommends resolution of those issues to the Deputy Secretary of the Department;
  • Provides input to the Deputy Secretary on IT architecture management planning and IT investment management process improvement activities; and
  • Identifies security and privacy vulnerabilities and opportunities to provide a more secure electronic environment.
9. Quantify the cost savings and cost avoidance achieved through implementation of new IT programs;

Quantifying cost savings/avoidance is difficult for new initiatives that have not reached maturity. The Department can provide estimates for one new initiative, the GEMS e-Folder, which will be fully implemented in January 2010. Cost savings will be fully realized when all open grants have electronic records. Many multi-year grants have existing hard copy files, which will not be scanned. Record-keeping will be electronic for all grants made in FY 2010 and onward.

The GEMS program office has estimated that the Department will save $485,072 annually beginning in FY2011 by replacing the paper-based recordkeeping method for the Offices of Postsecondary Education and Elementary and Secondary Education. These savings will increase as this system is rolled out to additional offices across the Department. Eliminating paper archival storage alone is estimated to save an estimated $226,666.00 annually. E- Folders will also improve staff productivity by saving an estimated 7,360 staff hours annually (approximately 3.5 FTE) in the areas of processing official grant documentation and responding to information requests.

10. Describe your efforts to consolidate, or collaborate with other agencies, to reduce the number of Federal data centers; and

The Department entered into a Contractor-Owned Contractor-Operated IT service contract with Perot Systems in November 2007. This IT service contract provides the Department with IT services operated from the Perot Systems Data Centers located in Plano, Texas, and Florence, KY. This consolidation of the Department’s IT operations into Perot’s Data Centers was completed in 2009 and has resulted in the subsequent shut down of the previously owned and operated Department of Education Data Centers. Currently, the Department does not own, lease or otherwise manage any data centers.

11. Describe the telework program at your agency, including your plans to increase your employees’ ability to use Web 2.0 tools to work-at-a-distance.

The Department has a flexible workplace program for employment performed away from the traditional office. Telework locations may include an employee's home, a satellite facility, or a telecenter. This program assists employees who need flexibility in work scheduling and commuting. It is a voluntary program that is available to almost all ED employees, with supervisory approval.

Telework can be either “fixed,” a regularly scheduled arrangement under which an employee works one or more days per week as a telecommuter, or on an “as-needed” basis. “As-needed” schedules can be particularly useful in enabling employees to work at an alternate worksite where they can complete a specific task or meet a short-term goal. With supervisory approval, “as-needed” schedules also can enable employees, including employees with disabilities, to work safely from an approved alternate workplace during periods of inclement weather. Participants are required to complete online training before they begin their Flexiplace work schedule.

Each employee and supervisor must sign a Flexiplace work agreement that covers the terms and conditions of the Flexiplace program. For evaluation purposes, the signed agreement must then be submitted to the Flexiplace Coordinator. The work agreement covers items such as the voluntary nature of the arrangement; length of Flexiplace assignment; hours and days of duty for each worksite; responsibilities for timekeeping, leave approval, and requests for overtime and compensatory time; performance requirements; proper use and safeguard of Government property and records; standards of conduct; and completion of required program evaluation materials. Flexiplace employees must comply with organizational security procedures and ensure adequate security measures are in place to protect the equipment from being damaged, stolen or accessed by unauthorized individuals.

The Department has no immediate or short-term plans to implement Web 2.0 tools for telework support. The agency is investigating the best use of Web 2.0 tools as part of its overall Cloud Computing initiative.

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Last Modified: 05/01/2012