Department of Education:

Management of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

HRD-90-21BR: Published: Nov 28, 1989. Publicly Released: Nov 28, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), focusing on OSERS headquarters and field managers' and senior staffs' views on how well OSERS carried out key management activities.

GAO found that: (1) more than 60 percent of the respondents stated that the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services ineffectively established OSERS-wide goals, coordinated activities among components, and responded to senior officials', regional offices', and constituents' program concerns; (2) despite efforts to establish broad goals and track progress in meeting those goals, OSERS lacked a goal-setting process that incorporated input from other OSERS components and a formal tracking system to monitor key goal and objective implementation; (3) 81 percent of the respondents stated that many OSERS operations practices negatively affected their ability to properly manage their day-to-day activities; (4) 75 percent of the respondents indicated problems with staff vacancies, acting managers, and lack of appropriate training or access to training; (5) 55 percent said that their components seldom timely filled vacancies, and employee turnover decreased qualified staff, efficiency, and morale; (6) OSERS employees and state officials believed that training was not specialized and was difficult to obtain because of budget restraints; (7) although OSERS devoted almost all of its budget to grant award and administration, almost half of the respondents identified inadequate OSERS grantee performance monitoring as a problem; and (8) most state officials were critical of OSERS program direction, policy guidance and technical assistance and perceived a lack of commitment and support for rehabilitation programs.

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