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
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.