Education names Woods its COO for aid

As the government’s new education financial aid chieftain, Greg Woods will get the
chance to implement the ideas and policies he championed as deputy director of Vice
President Gore’s National Partnership for Reinventing Government.

The Education Department earlier this month named Woods as its chief operating officer
for the Office of Student Financial Assistance, a performance-based organization.

The Gore program developed model legislation for establishing PBOs in government. The
idea behind it is that such organizations can create incentives for high performance and
accountability and allow more flexibility for innovation and efficiency.

The Higher Education Amendments of 1998 established the financial assistance office to
help modernize the delivery of student financial aid.

Woods outlined a plan for the new office at a press conference at Education
headquarters. The use of information technology to carry out the office’s services
was a prominent theme in the plan.

The Education PBO will follow a modular contracting approach to build a financial
management system that equals the best in the private sector, Woods said.

“You buy a little, test a little, fix a little,” Woods said. “It’s
a common private-sector practice. You get improvements faster, and you don’t make
big, expensive mistakes.”

Government traditionally has bought big computer systems that take too long to
implement and become obsolete too quickly, he said.

The Education PBO will change that practice, Woods said.

He said the Student Financial Assistance Office has two immediate goals:

“As we designed this PBO, we envisioned a leader with precisely the mix of
experience that Greg Woods possesses,” said Education Secretary Richard W. Riley.
“He has extensive experience in both the private and public sectors. In short,
he’s the right person for the job, and I am excited to have him on board.”

Education wants the Student Financial Assistance Office to modernize delivery of aid by
emphasizing simplification, systems integration, customer service and cost-cutting, Riley

“We’ll have an obsession with our customers,” Woods said. “We have
to know who our customers are and what they want.”

Woods since 1993 was deputy director for information technology, customer service and
regulatory reform for the White House reinventing government program. He was chief
executive officer for eight years at Science and Engineering Associates Inc., a systems
development start-up in Albuquerque, N.M.

Woods has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of
Southern California.  


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