Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley's effort to create an esprit de corps and instill a sense of purpose at what he has called a "demoralized'' agency are in view on walls throughout the Education Department.
"Our mission is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation,'' the blue-and-white cardboard signs announce.
Some bulletin boards also feature a letter from Secretary Riley urging that "diversity'' be considered in filling jobs.
The Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee last week approved the nominations of Marshall S. Smith as undersecretary of education and David Longanecker as assistant secretary for postsecondary education. Approval is expected in the full Senate.
Mr. Smith is on leave from Stanford University, and Mr. Longanecker is the former executive director of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.
Lobbyists and Capitol Hill sources say the finalists for the position of deputy assistant secretary for legislation are Tom Wolanin, a longtime aide to Rep. William D. Ford, D-Mich., who chairs the House Education and Labor Committee, and Ricardo Martinez, who served as an aide to former Rep. Augustus F. Hawkins, D-Calif., who chaired that committee before his retirement in 1990.
Mr. Wolanin confirmed last week that he is a candidate.
In a new study, the General Accounting Office has found that the number and prevalence of political appointees at the Education Department peaked in 1987, under Secretary of Education William J. Bennett, when 166 such employees made up 3.9 percent of the workforce.
At the end of 1991, the department had 137 political appointees, who represented 3 percent of employees.
Like previous G.A.O. studies, the report found that Education had a higher percentage of political workers than any other Cabinet agency.
The current study found six other government components with even higher percentages, but they are all very small offices with inherently political missions, such as the Office of Management and Budget.
The highest percentage in 1991, 58.2 percent, was found in the
Office of National Drug Control Policy, which Mr. Bennett headed in
1989 and 1990.
--J.M. & M.P.