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Mike Smith Returns to Ed. Dept. as a Senior Adviser

By Erik W. Robelen — February 25, 2009 1 min read
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His office may be smaller, but Marshall (Mike) S. Smith, a veteran education official from the Clinton era, is back at 400 Maryland Ave. in downtown Washington. As of last month, Smith has returned to the Education Department’s headquarters as a senior adviser to Secretary Arne Duncan.

“I’m working with a team on the implementation of the stimulus package, which is a big part of my time, and other duties as requested by the secretary,” said Smith, who served as both the undersecretary and acting deputy secretary at the federal agency for seven years during the Clinton administration.

Smith, 71, said he expects to stay in his new position, which does not require congressional approval, for a year or two.

Many key slots at the Education Department remain unfilled, including the deputy secretary position.

And with a federal stimulus package to contend with, which includes some $115 billion in aid to public education, the Education Department under President Obama has had to hit the ground running.

“The mix of things we have to deal with now is far greater than in the first days of the Clinton era,” Smith said.

The former Education Department official joins an administration already loaded with plenty of former Clintonites.

“It’s just the natural way of the world,” he said. “These are people who know the workings of government.”

In his case, Secretary Duncan asked him to come on board, Smith said. “That always helps in making decisions.”

Since stepping down from the department in 2000, Smith has spent most of his time as the education program director (and more recently a senior adviser) at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, based in Menlo Park, Calif. His official last day at the foundation was Jan. 21.