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Federal Training Investments and Assessments

Constrained budgets and the need to address gaps in critical federal skills and competencies make it essential that agencies identify the appropriate level of investment and establish priorities for employee training and development.

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Like many organizations, federal agencies face challenges successfully acquiring, developing, and retaining talent. Investing in and enhancing the value of employees through training and development is a crucial part of addressing this challenge. However, constrained budgets and the need to address gaps in critical federal skills/competencies mean that training dollars must be invested effectively.

Federal agencies are implementing several leading practices to make strategic decisions about staff training, such as determining the best mix of decentralized and centralized training. However, they are not always prioritizing training so that the most important needs are met first, evaluating the benefits of training, or ensuring that they aren’t duplicating internal training investments. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) could also help reduce duplicative investments by identifying existing training that can be provided centrally to all agencies.

A guide for assessing federal training efforts

This guide can help federal agencies improve their training efforts by providing a number of ways to assess how they plan, design, implement, and evaluate effective training and development programs. The guide has three main sections.

The first section provides an overview of the 4 components of the training and development process:

  • Planning/front-end analysis—developing a strategic approach that establishes priorities and leverages investments in training and development to achieve agency results
  • Design/development—identifying specific training and development initiatives that can help improve individual and agency performance
  • Implementation—ensuring effective and efficient delivery of training and development opportunities in an environment that supports learning and change
  • Evaluation—demonstrating how training and development efforts contribute to improved performance and results

The second section includes key questions to consider when assessing an agency’s training and development process—such as the appropriate level of training investments and prioritizing funding for the most important needs.

The third section summarizes some characteristics of an effective training and development process that is focused on achieving results. These characteristics include ensuring stakeholder involvement throughout the process and effectively allocating resources to maximize training investments.  

Applying this guide

This guide has helped assess agencies’ efforts to develop effecting training and development programs.

For instance:

  • An assessment using this guide as criteria found that the Navy should routinely evaluate its ship-driving training, including collecting and evaluating feedback on the quality of this training, routinely conducting competency assessments, and providing standard criteria for qualifications. 
  • A review of the effectiveness of the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) updated screener training found that TSA uses established models for updating and evaluating its Transportation Security Officer training and has followed leading practices.

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