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VIP Consultants to the Ed. Dept.

By Michele McNeil — March 02, 2009 2 min read
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Given that there are gaping holes in Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s leadership team, he’s been asked repeatedly about who is making important decisions for the department, especially since it’s now been handed $115 billion in stimulus aid to oversee.

In fact, Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon of California, the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, wants to know a lot more about how the department is going to oversee all of this stimulus money. He’s asked for a series of briefings – and answers – from the department about everything from the criteria for stimulus waivers to when the money will start flowing. His specific demands, and questions, are outlined in this letter. Although he’s in the minority, it’s worth noting that McKeon can complicate the department’s life, by, for example, requesting a lot of GAO investigations.

Duncan has pointed out that he has a team of career staff members and consultants helping him figure all of this out.

So Politics K-12 asked the education department just who these consultants are. They’re listed below. This list will also give you a good idea of who may be headed for key, permanent posts in Duncan’s office.

Barbara Bowman: She’s a paid, intermittent consultant, working less than half-time. A co-founder of the Erickson Institute, the Chicago-based graduate school for child development, she’s providing advice on early childhood initiatives. UPDATE: One of my eagle-eye colleagues pointed out that Bowman is the mother of close Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.

Anthony Miller: A paid, full-time consultant, according to the education department, though he’s apparently acting as the department’s chief operating officer and playing a key role in the stimulus package. He’s providing advice on general organizational issues. He used to work for McKinsey and Co. and more recently worked for a private equity firm.

Jonathan Schnur: A full-time consultant on leave from New Leaders for New Schools. He’s providing advice on organizational issues and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Interestingly, the department isn’t paying him to do this.

Robert Shireman: A paid, full-time consultant who is providing advice on student financial assistance. He’s been the go-to guy for questions about the bombshell student aid ideasin the President’s fiscal 2010 budget. He’s on leave from the Institute on College Access and Success, which he founded.

Judy Winston: A paid, intermittent consultant who is working less than half-time. A former education department general counsel under President Clinton, she oversaw President Obama’s education transition team and now provides advice on program and management policy and organizational structure.

Judy Wurtzel: A paid, full-time consultant. According to the department, she’s providing advice on the stimulus package and “general mission critical” functions. She works on education issues for the Aspen Institute and is the former executive director of the Learning First Alliance.

In addition, two more key staffers worth mentioning include:

Charlie Rose, who has been nominated as the department’s general counsel. He’s a Chicago-based lawyer and bigwig when it comes to collective bargaining negotiations.

And Joseph Conaty of the department participated in a webinar last week on the stimulus, sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation and Teachscape, in which he was identified as the acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education.

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