Scope of the Position:

The Deputy Secretary of the Department of Education is responsible for the development of politics and initiatives that serve to achieve the President's education priorities. The Deputy Secretary is also responsible for the Department's programs and $68.1 billion budget, along with the additional supervision of staff. The position also employs and directs more than 3,500 federal employees and 19 agencies.

Illustrative Management Challenges:

In the coming years, the Department of Education faces many challenges, including: improper payments, information technology security, oversight and monitoring, data quality and reporting, and information technology system development and implementation. All of the aforementioned issues have been identified and reported via IG audits, inspections, and investigations. Having identified the Federal Pell Grant (Pell) and the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) as programs susceptible to significant improper payments, the Deputy Secretary must ensure that billions of dollars are reaching the intended recipients.

As the Department continues to modernize, the Deputy Secretary must help ensure the systems and data are adequately managed. Without adequate management, operation, and technical security controls in place, the Department's systems and information are vulnerable to attacks. Unauthorized access could result in losing data confidentiality and integrity, limiting system availability, and reducing system reliability.1

With an increasing workload and dwindling staff numbers, the Deputy Secretary must find ways to complete Department objectives with fewer resources. The Department faces an ongoing challenge of efficiently providing services to growing numbers of program participants and managing additional administrative requirements with consistent staffing levels. The Department reported that its inflation-adjusted administrative budget is about the same as it was 10 years ago, while its full-time equivalent staffing level has declined by eight percent. This makes effective information systems development and implementation, and the greater efficiencies that such investments can provide, critical to the success of its activities and the achievement of its mission.


     1Office of Inspector General's (OIG) Management and Performance Challenges for Fiscal Year 2016;; 2015.      

Deputy Secretaries of Education:

Though certainly not a requirement, experience in public education is common among Deputy Secretaries of Education. For those that lack a background in education, having experience as a high-level government official is a major advantage to attaining and succeeding in this position.

Current Incumbent:

James Cole Jr. (2016-present):  Prior to his time as Deputy Secretary, Cole served as General Counsel for the Department of Education. From 2011 to 2014, Cole served as Deputy General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Earlier, he worked at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where he became a partner in the corporate department.  He began his career as a law clerk for the Honorable Stephanie K. Seymour of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Cole earned his BS in finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his JD from the University of Chicago. 

Previous Deputy Secretaries:

John B. King, Jr. (acting) (2014-2015): King currently serves as the Secretary of Education. Prior to his appointment as Deputy Secretary, King served as the Commissioner of Education for New York State. He previously worked as a Managing Director with Uncommon Schools, a nonprofit charter management organization that operates urban public schools across New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. King also was Co-Founder and Co-Director for Curriculum and Instruction at Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Massachusetts. He began his career teaching high school social studies. He earned his BA in government, MA in social studies education, and Doctor of Education in educational administrative practice.

James H. Shelton III (2013-2014): Shelton currently serves as Chief Impact Officer of 2U. Prior to his tenure as Deputy Secretary, Shelton worked as the Department's head of the Office of Innovation and Improvement. He previously served as Program Director for Education with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Shelton helped to found and held leadership roles with LearnNow, a school management company. He holds a BS in computer science along with an MBA and an MA in education.

Anthony Wilder Miller (2009-2013): Miller currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer and Partner at the Vistria Group. He previously worked as a Director with Silver Lake, a private equity firm. Prior to this position, Miller worked with LRN Corporation as Executive Vice President of Operations. He also spent 10 years at McKinsey & Company, eventually serving as a partner. Miller began his career with Delco Electronics, where he managed regional channel marketing. He holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Raymond Simon (2005-2009): Simon currently works as Senior Advisor with B&D Consulting. Prior to his time as Deputy Secretary, Simon served as Assistant Secretary and Elementary Education in the Department of Education. He has served as Arkansas' Chief State School Officer, the superintendent of the Conway (Arkansas) School District, and Assistant Superintendent for Finance in Conway. Simon began his career as a high school math teacher. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics and holds an educational specialist degree in school administration.

Eugene W. Hickok (2003-2004): Hickok currently serves as Senior Policy Director for Dutko Worldwide. Prior to his appointment, Hickok served as Pennsylvania's Secretary of Education. He was also elected as a member of the Carlisle (Pennsylvania) Area School District Board of Directors. He founded and served as chairman for the Education Leaders Council. Hickok taught political science for 15 years at Dickinson College.

William D. Hansen (2001-2003): Hansen currently works as the President and CEO of USA Funds. Prior to his appointment as Deputy Secretary, he served as the Department's Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget and Chief Financial Officer. He previously served as the President of the Education Finance Council and was appointed as a commissioner on the National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education.

Frank Holleman (1999-2001): Holleman currently works as a Senior Litigation Attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. Prior to his appointment as Deputy Secretary, Holleman was appointed Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice. Holleman worked as a partner at Wyche, Burgess, Freeman, and Parham in Greenville, South Carolina. Early in his career he served as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. Holleman holds a JD from Harvard Law School and an MS from the London School of Economics.

Marshall Smith (Acting) (1997-1999): Smith currently serves as a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Prior to his appointment as Acting Deputy Secretary, Smith served seven years as Under Secretary of Education. During the Carter Administration, he worked as Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Education and Assistant Commissioner for Policy Studies in the Office of Education. Marshall also served as Director of Policy and Budget for the National Institute of Education. He served intermittent terms as a professor at Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At Stanford, he served as the Dean of Education.

Madeleine M. Kunin (1993-1997): Kunin currently holds appointments at Saint Michael's College and the University of Vermont, where she is a March Scholar. Prior to her appointment as Deputy Secretary, Kunin served three terms in the Vermont House of Representatives, where she was elected as Majority Whip and served as Chair of the Appropriations Committee. In 1978 and 1980 she was elected Lieutenant Governor of Vermont, and she later went on to serve three terms as Governor. She also served as one of three directors for President Bill Clinton's transition team. She holds an MA in English from the University of Vermont.

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