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Robert Gordon Leaves as Ed. Dept. Advisor; Amy McIntosh Steps Up

By Alyson Klein — March 02, 2015 2 min read
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Robert Gordon, who was nominated last year to serve as assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy at the U.S. Department of Education, is leaving the agency, according to an email sent to department staff Monday by Emma Vadehra, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s chief of staff.

Gordon, who has had other key gigs in the Obama administration, including senior roles at the Office of Management and Budget, was never actually confirmed by the U.S. Senate to his assistant secretary post.

Instead, he was brought in as a “senior advisor"—but essentially, he was largely filling the position he was initially nominated for, just without the official Senate sign-off. (That’s not unusual in this administration, or even in past administrations. The confirmation process is long and difficult, and nominations often get held up for reasons that have nothing to do with the nominees themselves, as seemed to be the case here.)

Gordon may not have stayed at the department long, but advocates said they saw his fingerprints all over the education portion of the fiscal year 2016 budget, which put a premium on using evidence to inform program development and improvement.

In fact, Vadehra emphasized this in her email to staff: Gordon “has pushed our thinking and made our work better in a million ways—from ensuring we build on and learn from evidence across our programs, to driving the development of our FY16 budget,” she wrote.

Gordon will be joining the College Board, a nonprofit organization. He’ll serve as senior vice-president of finance and strategy.

So who will be stepping up to help fill Gordon’s role? Amy McIntosh, who is currently the principal deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. McIntosh has been a “driving force in some of our critical priorities, from strengthening teacher preparation to improving educator equity,” Vadehra wrote.

The White House is expected to put forth a new assistant secretary nominee. It wasn’t clear from Vadehra’s email if that will be McIntosh or someone else. (It’s likely Vadehra is being careful here because she doesn’t want to get ahead of the White House on this announcment.)

Here’s what Vadehra said on a new nominee in her email to staff: “The process to finalize a nominee for OPEPD Assistant Secretary is already under way, and the president will announce a nominee as soon as possible. As more details are available, we will be to share with you.”

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