Federal Manager's Daily Report

The General Accounting Office has put together a report

detailing key lessons and experiences from agency efforts to

design training and development programs that could be useful

to other agencies facing similar challenges.

Working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Departments

of Defense, Treasury, Interior and Veterans Affairs, it found

a variety of approaches used to determine skill requirements

and training needs, such as implementing workforce planning

models and conducting inventories. GAO used as an example

the IRS, which improved training by interviewing its leaders

and benchmarking with leading practices in the public and

private sectors.

GAO found that agencies had trouble projecting costs and

benefits when proposing programs, and noted that VHA regional

education representatives communicated well with

headquarters-sharing information about successful practices

and identifying areas where coordination was needed.

The agencies relied primarily on end-of-course assessments

to evaluate the programs, but are beginning to use more

comprehensive approaches, including return-on-investment

analysis techniques. For example, the USACE training center

incorporated pre- and post-tests on over 90 percent of its

courses, as well as approaches to collect participants’

and course managers’ feedback, as part of its design.

The experiences GAO identified echo its eight core

characteristics of effective design: strategic alignment,

leadership commitment and communication, stakeholder

involvement, accountability and recognition, effective

resource allocation, partnerships and learning from others,

data quality assurance, and continuous performance

improvement. It said agencies could better carry out their

missions by focusing on these key areas.