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Federal Interagency Committee on Education

The Federal Interagency Committee on Education (FICE) is mandated to ensure "effective coordination of Federal education programs." It was first established by Executive Order 11185, issued by President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 16, 1964, and subsequently amended by Executive Order 11260 (1965) and by Executive Order 11761, issued by President Richard M. Nixon in 1974.

FICE was included in section 214 of Public Law 96-88, the Department of Education Organization Act. The act designates the U.S. Secretary of Education as the chair of FICE. On January 12, 1982, President Reagan issued a memorandum to the Secretary of Education stating that "senior policy making officials from the following agencies, commissions and boards should be assigned to the committee: the U.S. Department of Education; National Endowment for the Arts; National Endowment for the Humanities; National Science Foundation; and the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Interior, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs."

Subsequently, FICE membership grew to include representatives from the Department of Justice, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Environmental Protection Agency, The GLOBE Program, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Library of Congress, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Peace Corps, Smithsonian Institution, and U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

In these acts of legislation, Congress recognized the importance of coordination of federal education programs. FICE assists the Secretary of Education in providing a mechanism to ensure coordination between the Department of Education and other federal agencies that administer education programs. The Department of Education's Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs is the office responsible for managing FICE.

In the late 1960s and 1970s FICE made recommendations on a variety of postsecondary issues including expanded federal support for graduate study, federal support of historically black colleges and universities, and consumer protection for postsecondary education. These activities led to better interagency cooperation in these areas. FICE's work in consumer protection for postsecondary education led to legislation to protect consumers from the questionable activities of some postsecondary institutions.

Other accomplishments have included planning for an International Conference on Environmental Education in 1987, and making recommendations for research on rural education. The latter were summarized in a 1991 article (later published as a pamphlet) entitled "An Agenda for Research and Development on Rural Education."

In 1999 FICE began an important project to catalog all federal education programs. The committee began with a pilot to test the feasibility of compiling an inventory of federal education programs. The Departments of Education, Treasury, Interior, and Agriculture combined with the National Science Foundation to form a subcommittee that developed a definition of an education program and inventoried programs meeting the definition within Interior, Agriculture, and the National Science Foundation. This resulted in a report entitled Single Source: Towards an Inventory of Federal Education Programs. Since the completion of the report, seven additional agencies have compiled inventories based on the definition.

The Department of Education's interagency team presented Single Source to the department in December 2000. After departmental review, several changes were made to the definition of an education program. These changes were presented to and adopted by FICE. All participating agencies were expected to utilize the definition to compile their inventories by the end of fiscal year 2001. FICE defined an education program as one that comprised activities backed by a congressional authorization and current appropriation, with the main purpose of providing support to, or strengthening education at, pre-K though graduate levels. Adult education is included in the definition, but activities such as employment training or public information efforts are excluded. Additional activities that fall under the definition of an education program are development of instructional methods and materials, professional enhancement and utilization of educational technology in schools, provision of assistance to students, upgrading of physical and educational school facilities, and research that has a goal of improving education.

FICE members participate in a number of Department of Education activities and initiatives. In the future, the inventory and list of education activities will provide a better understanding of the depth and breadth of the federal effort to improve education.


FEDERAL INTERAGENCY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION. 1991. "An Agenda for Research and Development on Rural Education." Journal of Research in Rural Education 7 (2):89–92.

FEDERAL INTERAGENCY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION. OFFICE OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AND INTERAGENCY AFFAIRS. 1996. Achieving the Goals–Goal 5: First in the World in Math and Science, Technology Resources. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

FEDERAL INTERAGENCY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION. SUBCOMMITTEE ON EDUCATIONAL CONSUMER PROTECTION. 1975. Toward a Federal Strategy for Protection of the Consumer of Education. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.


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