FEDweek

Education Department Staff Down, Contract Spending Flat

Employment at the Education Department dropped about 12 percent over the last 25 years to about 4,100 today, but the department has not added contractor personnel to make up for the difference, GAO has said.

Further, there has been an increase in the Office of Federal Student Aid by about 400 positions to nearly 1,400, meaning that the reductions in other offices was even greater than the 12 percent, it said. It attributed much of the increase to changes in student loan policies beginning in 2008.

Meanwhile, the department consistently spent 1-2 percent of its budget on contracts over that period, it said.

GAO examined staffing and contracting at the request of several House committee chairmen and other members who also asked for an inventory of the basis for various offices within the department. It said that of the 27 internal entities that qualify as offices or equivalent organizations, all but seven were mandated by a statute. Of the rest, one was created by the department itself, and six others by executive orders from presidents of both parties starting in the 1980s.