Member of Trump Administration Quits Rather than Testifying

Member of Trump Administration Quits Rather than Testifying

On Tuesday, James Runcie, chief operating officer for the Office of Federal Student Aid handed in his resignation after refusing to testify before congress.
Runcie was asked to testify in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee concerning some of the mishandling of payments made toward financial aid accounts. Runcie refused, and turned in his resignation, along with sending his staff an email that expresses concern about management problems within the existing agency.
James Runcie has been the chief operating officer for the Office of Federal Student Aid since 2011, and is rumored to have had existing plans to retire in the near future.
The Office of Federal Student Aid has recently undergone significant changes based on previous issues with things like student loan forgiveness and overpayments. According to Runcie, the Chief Finance Officer, Jay Hurt, is the one who is best equipped to testify and Runcie sees no reason why he should attend the hearing, stating that he has done so before, but is now “concerned about significant constraints being placed on our ability to allocate and prioritize resources, make decisions and deliver on the organization’s mission,”
Runcie also speaks of feeling unable to lead from his current position with the managerial climate as it stands right now. He informed his staff that he has repeatedly asked for more staff and has been refused, though the movement of functions from the Office of Federal Student Aid to the Treasury Department by President Trump has caused some confusion and a need for crossover training.
Liz Hall, department spokesperson, states that “He chose to resign rather than face congress.” For now, deputy chief operating officer, Matthew Sessa will take over Runcie’s duties.
The FSA has been under scrutiny for some time now, as the student loan debt rises and fraudulent activity increases. Some of the issues they face now involve third-party lenders, cybersecurity, and expanding the PELL grant program.