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Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander has reorganized several offices within the Education Department, creating two new positions and upgrading two existing ones.

Before Undersecretary Ted Sanders left the agency, he had been given the duties of the deputy undersecretary for planning, budget, and evaluation and those of a new chief financial officer slot created by the Congress.

Budget and financial duties will now be assigned to a new assistant secretary for management and budget, whose office will also have policy-research and legislative functions. William Hansen, now the acting assistant secretary for legislation, will fill the new post temporarily.

A new office of policy and planning will consist of current policy staff from the secretary's and undersecretary's offices. Bruno Manno, who is technically still an official in the research branch, but who has been working directly for Mr. Alexander, is to serve as acting assistant secretary.

In addition, the deputy undersecretary for management will become the assistant secretary for human resources and administration, and the deputy undersecretary for intergovernmental and interagency affairs will become an assistant secretary.

A department spokesman said Mr. Alexander can change titles and duties without Congressional approval, but would have to seek approval to grant the officeholders the higher salary of an assistant secretary.

Marshall Officially Retires From U.S. Supreme Court

Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court officially retired last week, clearing up confusion over whether he would sit on any cases in the new term before his successor is confirmed by the Senate.

The Senate has delayed until this week a floor vote on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to replace Mr. Marshall. The Senate Judiciary Committee split 7 to 7 on Sept. 27 on whether to recommend favorably the nomination of Judge Thomas, who now sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The floor vote on Judge Thomas's nomination was scheduled for Oct. 8, making it impossible for the judge to join the Supreme Court for the Oct. 7 start of the new term. On that day, the High Court was to hear oral arguments in a major school-desegregation case.

Justice Marshall, who had said he would step down when his "successor is qualified," delivered a letter to President Bush on Oct. 1 stating that he had retired effective immediately. He gave no explanation for his decision.

House Approves Measure To Extend Rights Panel

The House last week approved by voice vote legislation that would extend the life of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, but lawmakers warned the panel that they would let it die if it did not produce more substantial work.

The bill would reauthorize the commission for two years, at a maximum of $6 million per year--$1 million less than the commission had to work with this year and far less than the $10.8 million requested by the Bush Administration, which wants a 10-year extension.

"While the reauthorization may seem harsh, it is meant to send a clear message to the Civil Rights Commission: Your work is needed more than ever, but Congress and the American people must have the confidence that it is being performed in a focused and thoughtful manner," said Representative Henry Hyde of Illinois, the ranking Republican on the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights.

Even the commission's supporters criticized its record harshly, noting that during the past 22 months, it had held no hearings and produced only one report.

The commission has been in jeopardy since the mid-1980's, when lawmakers charged that the Reagan Administration had compromised its independence and its mission.

During its 34-year history the panel has issued numerous reports on education issues.

Federal Judge Upholds Loan-Default Regulations

A federal district judge last week upheld Education Department regulations that eliminate from participation in federal student-loan programs postsecondary institutions with default rates in excess of 35 percent for three consecutive years. U.S. District Judge Harold H. Greene said schools contesting the rules should have been able to comply with them. Nine schools and the National Association of Accredited Cosmetology Schools argued that the regulations should not be applied retroactively.

The department announced last July that 178 schools could lose their eligibility for the program under the new regulations, required under the Student Loan Default Prevention Act of 1990.

Federal health officials last week said that they were planning to issue a "modification and clarification" to new regulations that would limit Medicaid reimbursements to states.

The proposed interim final regulations, which go into effect on Jan. 1, have been bitterly opposed by some members of the Congress and the National Governors' Association, which predicts that states will have to make severe cuts in their Medicaid programs to offset the loss in revenue.

The decision by Department of Health and Human Services officials to revise the regulation came at about the same time that the House majority leader, Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, threatened to overturn the proposed rule legislatively.

A key House Democrat has unveiled legislation that would substantially boost the funding and responsibilities of the Education Department's office of educational research and improvement.

The bill--which would authorize $130 million in 1992 and $1.3 billion over five years--would place the O.E.R.I. "at the center, rather than at the margin, of educational innovation and reform in this country," according to its sponsor, Representative Major Owens, the New York Democrat who is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Select Education.

As Mr. Owens has indicated in previous remarks and reports, the bill calls for an independent board of researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to oversee the agency. It also proposes boosting the office's dissemination efforts by expanding its electronic information network and by creating a "district education-agent program" to provide information and technical assistance to school districts.

The bill would also create a national institute to study the education of at-risk students, and a separate institute to examine school management and governance.

Vol. 11, Issue 06, Page 31

Published in Print: October 9, 1991, as Capital Digest
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