Recent Actions Indicate the Potential for Reduction of Staff/Programs at USED



Recent activities at the national level indicate a potential Trump administration initiative to reduce the U.S. Department of Education’s (USED) staff and programs. In particular, three recent actions point in that direction.

  1. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, announced in a radio interview that she is looking at USED’s staff and spending with the purpose of determining what USED is doing that is not necessary or important.
  2. The Trump Administration’s budget plans include reductions in funding targeting a number of areas, including education. And,
  3. The March 13, 2017 executive order, “Presidential Executive Order on a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch” charges the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to look for ways to cut “unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs.”

Secretary of Education

While the Secretary of Education has indicated that she will be looking for things at USED that are unnecessary or not important (with the implication that she will cut those things), no details of how this will be done have been provided. Members of Congress have asked her for details regarding how she plans to make these determinations, but as of the time of this writing, no response has been provided. Perhaps this will be included as part of the executive order (see below).

Trump Budget

The Trump administration is preparing a budget proposal for FY 2018, which will impact education funding for the 2018-2019 school year. Trump has indicated that he plans to increase defense spending, with a corresponding 10% reduction in spending in other areas, including education. USED’s current budget is about $68 billion. Recent information indicates that the Trump administration plans to cut education funding by about $6 billion. In addition to a reduction in staff at USED, programs that could experience cuts or elimination include Title II, Part A - professional development programs for educators, Title IV, Part B - 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs, TRIO and GEARUP programs (part of the Higher Education Act), Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education programs, and it is expected that there will be no funding included in the Trump budget proposal for the new ESSA Title IV, Part A grants for health, safety, technology, and arts programs.

Executive Order

The March 13th executive order reflects President Trump’s campaign promises to reduce the size and impact of the federal government. The executive order’s stated purpose is “to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of the executive branch”. It orders the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to “propose a plan to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies . . ., components of agencies, and agency programs.” The executive order requires the head of each agency to submit a proposed plan to reorganize its agency, if appropriate. This is where Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos could submit any changes or cuts she would like to see.

There are five points that the Director of OMB must consider in the development of the proposed plan. They include:

(i) whether some or all of the functions of an agency, a component, or a program are appropriate for the Federal Government or would be better left to State or local governments or to the private sector through free enterprise;

(ii) whether some or all of the functions of an agency, a component, or a program are redundant, including with those of another agency, component, or program; 

(iii) whether certain administrative capabilities necessary for operating an agency, a component, or a program are redundant with those of another agency, component, or program; 

(iv) whether the costs of continuing to operate an agency, a component, or a program are justified by the public benefits it provides; and

(v) the costs of shutting down or merging agencies, components, or programs, including the costs of addressing the equities of affected agency staff.

Right now, there is no known impact from these actions on parent notices. If programs are eliminated that have required parent notices, TransACT may remove those notices from use when they are no longer needed. TransACT is committed to keeping up with what is happening on the federal education level and reporting to you any impact that these actions might have on parent notices.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact us at 425.977.2100, Option 3 or email at

Dr. David Holbrook

About The Author

Dr. David Holbrook is a nationally recognized leader in federal programs administration and monitoring with expertise in Title I, Title III, Native American Education, and Federal Programs. Dr. Holbrook has also worked as a consultant with Title III of the US Department of Education and now serves as Executive Director, Federal Compliance and State Relationships with TransAct.