Greg Woods, 59, a retired chief operating officer of the Education Department's Office of Federal Student Aid who as a Pentagon official was a 1974 recipient of an Arthur S. Flemming Award as one of the outstanding young people in government service, died of pancreatic cancer Nov. 21 at Sibley Memorial Hospital.

He joined the Education Department in 1998, serving as chief executive of the student aid office until retiring in September.

Upon learning of his death, Secretary of Education Rod Paige issued a statement recalling Mr. Woods as "truly dedicated to the mission of the department to provide access to postsecondary education for millions of students," adding that he was dedicated to "the challenge of streamlining and updating the technology systems that deliver financial aid to help make the goal of a college education a reality for so many."

Mr. Woods came to Washington and began his government career as a civilian Pentagon employee in 1970. For the next six years, he served as head of the European division on program analysis and evaluation in the office of the secretary of defense. In that post, he worked on the Mutual Balance Force Reduction agreement between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

From 1976 to 1985, he worked for JRB Associates, a health care consulting and contracting concern, and became president of the SAIC Inc. subsidiary. He then spent eight years as chief executive of Science and Engineering Associates, a developer of computer and software products.

Mr. Woods returned to government work in 1993 as deputy director for information technology, customer service and regulatory reform with Vice President Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government.

In that post, he chaired a task force on improving customer service at the Internal Revenue Service and led an interagency Government Information Services Board and helped develop the Access America Program to increase public Internet access to government agencies.

Mr. Woods, an Alexandria resident, was a native of Milwaukee. He was a 1965 mechanical engineering graduate of the University of Southern California. Before coming to Washington, he had been a project engineer with AiResearch Manufacturing Co.

He was an authority in thermodynamics and held patents for heat exchange systems.

His marriage to Linda Woods ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife, Lee, whom he married in October and who lives in Alexandria; three children from his first marriage, Brian Woods of Alexandria, and Denise Schultz and Kristen Martinez, both of Woodbridge; a brother; and six grandchildren.