Case Study

Program Management Office Stand-Up for the U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid

Challenge: The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) NextGen Program Office (NGPO) needed to unite disparate platforms, modernize and consolidate systems, and implement mobile solutions. Numerous internal and external stakeholders had called on the office to enhance its customer and partner experiences and modernize the eligibility determination, disbursement, and repayment of federal student assistance and loan programs. The programs provide more than $120 million in student financial assistance to over 18 million applicants each year.

Solution: Summit leveraged proven program management practices to assess the maturity of each NGPO functional element, including schedule, budget and cost, risk and internal control, technical integration, and change management. Based on this assessment, the team developed new plans, processes, and tools to successfully set up a program management office, which includes five programs representing hundreds of millions of dollars in investments in student financial assistance. The team was able to quickly staff up to implement these plans and procedures for the program management office.

Over the course of the contract, Summit was able to institutionalize processes and procedures to effectively manage the cost, schedule, scope, and risks of the programs within NGPO’s portfolio. As these processes matured, the team shifted its focus to provide direct project support and project management coaching for each of the programs. This allowed NGPO to successfully advance multiple modernizations while navigating a change in administration, shifting budget allocations, and leadership changes.

Result: Summit continues to work collaboratively with our FSA partners to improve internal communications and day-to-day operations that enhance NGPO’s capacity to manage increasingly complex and high-profile IT systems. With our expertise, FSA has become more results-driven, empowering its employees to be customer-focused while advancing the needs of student borrowers and institutions of higher education. Our support has led to the creation of the Student Aid and Borrower Eligibility Reform (SABER) initiative, which is implementing significant changes to the federal student aid landscape resulting from the FUTURE Act and the FAFSA Simplification Act that will enhance the student and borrower experience.