John English: Public servants advancing the public good

April 24, 2024
Advancing the public good: Steady and true


John English

MPP ’09
Management and program analyst at the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development
Years in government: 15

COVID funding: Especially during the CARES Act rollout, there was an urgency to distribute funding very quickly. I was part of the effort to understand the complex formula for allocation, and to collaborate with ED attorneys, budget office, and the program office to operationalize the process of disbursing $14 billion to nearly 5,000 eligible colleges within 30 days. Over the next year or so, we allocated a total of $76 billion to colleges across three different COVID relief bills. As a result, colleges and universities stayed open and came back to in-person classes sooner. A lot of students were able to stay enrolled who otherwise might have dropped out. 

A communication bridge: Along with a number of other career staffers, I served as a bridge between political and career staff doing key parts of the work as key personnel changed during the presidential transition. There were significant changes in the law compared to the CARES Act that had implications for which colleges would be eligible, how funding would be distributed to colleges, and how much funding must be given by colleges directly to students. I helped identify key policy, legal, or technical issues and coordinate decision-making around these issues. 

On political transitions: For many people working for the federal government, there isn’t a dramatic impact on their daily work during transition. The atmosphere can certainly change, and for those of us who work directly with political appointees, the change in personnel can be impactful. But fundamentally the mission of the Department of Education, and the work we carry out, are firmly grounded in the various legislative statutes and regulations that are the foundation of the programs we administer.

Advancing the public good: Steady and true

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