Barack Obama left the White House in January. However, employees from his administration are still there. The chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid James Runcie is also a holdover from the previous administration. But, the Education Department released a statement in which they said he resigned from the department. Nobody expected this. However, he was forced to testify before the Congress about improper financial aid payments. Runcie thought if he resigns, he will avoid the testifying.
Faced with being forced to testify before Congress, the head of the Education Department’s student financial aid office resigned Tuesday night, irking House Republicans who had been planning to grill him.
James Runcie, chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid and a holdover from the Obama administration, “submitted his resignation to the department last night,” the Education Department said in a press release.
Runcie’s departure stemmed from a dispute with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who had ordered him to testify about improper financial aid payments, Politico reported.
Runcie had also refused previous requests to testify.
The Washington Post reported that Runcie’s email announcing his resignation said he was the wrong person to testify. In the email, Runcie was also critical of the Trump administration and DeVos in particular.
Acquaintances of Runcie said he had planned to retire at year’s end but that his disputes with the Trump administration had prompted his early departure.
“I wish him well and thank him for his service,” DeVos said Wednesday.
The Office of Federal Student Aid runs the federal government’s $1 trillion student lending operation.
House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, called it “disappointing” that “Mr. Runcie would rather resign than testify before Congress.”
He said that Runcie, who was appointed in 2015 by then-Education Secretary Arne Duncan, should be replaced by someone who “values security and competency over politics.”
During Runcie’s tenure, “federal aid systems are less secure, performance has suffered and improper payments have increased. For years, the inspector general and this committee have warned the Department of Education of vulnerabilities to its $1.1 trillion federal loans program,” Chaffetz said.
House Education and the Workforce Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., criticized Runcie for quitting rather than explaining himself.
“No one employed by the federal government should be immune from accountability, especially someone responsible for overseeing more than $1 trillion in federal student loans,” Foxx said. “Mr. Runcie has stood at the center of this mismanagement for years, and our concerns have largely fallen on deaf ears. “
Foxx said that Runcie’s replacement needs to do a better job.
“Secretary DeVos has an important opportunity to instill new leadership and a new direction within the agency,” she said.
Runcie should be replaced with someone who can do a better job than him. We’ll have to sit and wait until they announce who will replace him. However, we still want him to testify.