POLITICO reported last week that, according to an internal memo it obtained, the Department of Education has announced some “organizational changes” at the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). James Manning, the acting head of FSA since January, announced the appointment of a new chief of staff and chief information officer. 

The new chief of staff will be Marianna O’Brien, who previously worked at the National Student Clearinghouse, The College Board and FSA. Colleen McGinnis, who had been serving as chief of staff for the past three years, will become FSA’s acting chief performance management officer.

The new FSA chief information officer will be John Fare, currently the chief performance management officer. Fare will replace current chief information officer Keith Wilson, who will become a senior adviser in business operations. In addition, Jeff Appel will become FSA’s director of policy liaison and implementation. Appel previously served as deputy undersecretary of education during the Obama administration.

POLITICO also reported that Manning’s email on Friday outlined plans to divide up oversight of the various units of FSA between himself and his deputy, Kathleen Smith. Under the new plan, FSA’s administrative functions — including acquisitions, finance, strategy and technology — will report to Manning. And the “operational business units” — which include enforcement and program compliance — will report to Smith.

FSA is the unit of ED that oversees the private collection agency contract which is currently embroiled in round two of litigation. Industry sources have been aware of personnel changes, but the Department has been tight-lipped about who is now responsible for decisions related to the unrestricted (large collection agency) contract. 


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