Federal Training Investments
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.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and agency Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCOs) play an important role in ensuring that federal training dollars are invested effectively. For example, as shown in Table 1, many CHCOs reported implementing such leading training investment practices as determining the best mix of decentralized and centralized training.
Table 1: CHCOs Reported Implementing Leading Training Investment Practices
Leading Training Investment Practices
Number of Agencies With the Response
Identify the most appropriate mix of centralized and decentralized approaches for its training and development programs
Consider governmentwide reforms and other targeted efforts when planning its training and development programs
Have criteria for determining whether to design training and development programs in-house or obtain these services from a contractor or other external source
Track the cost and delivery of its training and development programs agencywide
Evaluate the benefits achieved through training and development programs, including improvements in individual and agency performance
(a) Has a formal process for evaluating employee satisfaction with training
(b) Has a formal process for evaluating improvement in employee performance after training
Compare training investments, methods, or outcomes with those of other organizations to identify innovative approaches or lessons learned.
Source: GAO analysis of CHCO responses to a GAO questionnaire.
At the same time, agencies can do more to ensure cost-effective training investment decisions. For example, as shown in table 2, many of the 27 CHCOs we surveyed reported they are not implementing such leading practices as prioritizing training and evaluating its benefits. In addition, many CHCOs do not have information from component or sub-agency leaders regarding their level of investments and priorities. Consequently, some agencies are duplicating internal training investments and missing opportunities to leverage economies of scale across their agencies. Federal agencies also need reliable information on how much they spend on training and for what purposes.
Table 2: Leading Training Investment Practices that Many CHCOs Reported Not Implementing Routinely
Number of CHCOs With the Response
Identify the appropriate level of investment to provide for training and development efforts
Prioritize funding so that the most important training needs are addressed first
Compare the merits of different training delivery mechanisms and determine what mix to use to ensure efficient and cost-effective delivery
Have a formal process for evaluating the impact of training on the agencys performance goals and missiona
Source: GAO analysis of CHCO responses to a GAO questionnaire.
aOne agency that reported I dont know was included in the category No.
OPMs guidance and assistance to agencies on federal training investments are in line with a number of the leading practices, but improvements are needed in other areas some of which are problematic to agencies such as identifying the appropriate level of investment in training and development and prioritizing training activities. In addition, agencies and OPM reported that there are opportunities for OPM to help reduce duplicative investments government-wide by identifying existing training that can be provided centrally to all agencies.
To help address these issues, we recommend that OPM, among other actions, improve guidance and assistance to agencies in
- establishing a process for setting and prioritizing training investments
- improving the reliability of agency training investment information
- identifying the best existing courses that fulfill government wide training requirements, and offering them to all agencies through appropriate platforms.
In responding to our recommendations, OPM said it plans to work with the CHCO and Chief Learning Officer Councils to prioritize training, revitalize training assessment guidance, determine appropriate data elements to facilitate agency decision making, regularly provide training investment data to agencies and develop resources to assist agencies in building a ready workforce. OPM said it will also share with agencies information on the best government wide mandatory and critical occupations training.
GAO-12-878: Published: Sep 17, 2012. Publicly Released: Sep 17, 2012.
Many Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCOs) reported that they are implementing several leading practices important to making strategic decisions about training delivery, such as determining the best mix of decentralized and centralized training and considering government-wide reform when planning training. However, many CHCOs reported they are not implementing some practices that support making mor...
GAO-12-487: Published: Apr 26, 2012. Publicly Released: Apr 26, 2012.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is taking steps to integrate its workforce planning and training efforts across the agency consistent with critical success factors for strategic human capital management such as initiating working groups to coordinate related activities, but its efforts are in the early stages. Until recently FEMAs efforts related to workforce planning have been in...
GAO-11-91: Published: Oct 22, 2010. Publicly Released: Oct 22, 2010.
Since 2006, air traffic control (ATC) equipment outages and failures at Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facilities have caused hundreds of flight delays and raised questions about FAA's maintenance capabilities. About 6,100 technicians maintain FAA's current (legacy) facilities and equipment and will be responsible for the Next Generation (NextGen) technologies planned for the next 15 years...
GAO-04-546G: Published: Mar 1, 2004. Publicly Released: Mar 1, 2004.
This publication supersedes GAO-03-893G, Human Capital: A Guide for Assessing Strategic Training and Development Efforts in the Federal Government (Exposure Draft), July 2003. As part of our ongoing review of agencies' efforts to address their human capital challenges, we saw the need for a framework to serve as a flexible and useful guide in assessing how agencies plan, design, implement, and eva...
GAO-17-332: Published: Mar 28, 2017. Publicly Released: Mar 28, 2017.
Since 2008, DOD has obligated over $3.5 billion through a dedicated fund to help recruit and train its acquisition workforce—the people responsible for buying $250 billion in goods and services each year. We previously reported that delays in using this fund have led to large amounts of money being carried over from year to year. We found that DOD, with some help from Congress, improved the tim...
GAO-17-53: Published: Jan 31, 2017. Publicly Released: Jan 31, 2017.
The Air Force and the Army have not fully applied four of the five key principles for effective strategic human capital planning for managing pilots of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) that are important for resolving the Air Force's pilot shortages and the Army's training shortfalls (see table below). Consistent with the first principle, the Air Force involved top senior leaders, UAS pilots, and sta...
GAO-17-40: Published: Jan 31, 2017. Publicly Released: Jan 31, 2017.
Most training providers (80 percent) who responded to GAO's survey reported that they were satisfied with guidance the U.S. Coast Guard (Coast Guard) provided to assist them in implementing the revised International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) requirements. However, 58 percent of respondents, including state maritime academies, private f...
GAO-17-144: Published: Jan 9, 2017. Publicly Released: Feb 8, 2017.
Staffing levels for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants management personnel generally declined during fiscal years 2006 through 2015, but it is unclear how workloads may have changed during this time frame. Specifically, the number of grant specialists and project officers—EPA's key grants management personnel—who entered information about grant actions into the agency's automat...
GAO-17-8: Published: Nov 30, 2016. Publicly Released: Nov 30, 2016.
Integrated program teams (IPT) are cross-functional or multidisciplinary groups of individuals that are organized and collectively responsible for delivering a product to an external or internal customer. GAO identified three characteristics that contribute to the creation and operation of a comprehensive IPT: (1) executive leadership through team support, empowerment, and oversight; (2) team comp...
GAO-17-51: Published: Nov 21, 2016. Publicly Released: Nov 21, 2016.
The Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have not established policies addressing internal control standards and leading practices related to program management. There are no federal government-wide standards specifically addressing program management. However, federal internal control standards include principles that are relevant to key roles such as...
GAO-17-31: Published: Nov 15, 2016. Publicly Released: Nov 15, 2016.
Officials in five selected states reported using three main approaches to develop plans for implementing career pathways, sector partnerships, and regional planning strategies under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). GAO selected states that had various levels of experience with these strategies. Specifically, as a condition of receiving funding, federal agencies require state pl...
GAO-17-128: Published: Oct 12, 2016. Publicly Released: Oct 12, 2016.
The Department of Defense (DOD) did not report all required data on military, civilian, and contracted services workforces in its February 2016 report that would demonstrate savings, as required by section 955 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, and it estimates that by FY 2017 it will meet savings for the civilian workforce but not for contracted services....
GAO-17-127: Published: Oct 7, 2016. Publicly Released: Oct 7, 2016.
The Enterprise Human Resources Integration (EHRI) payroll data are not fully supporting the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) strategic and open data goals. This is because OPM has not taken the steps necessary to make the data widely available for use by other agencies and researchers. EHRI payroll data are intended to provide a centralized, standardized, and comprehensive source of pay and...
GAO-16-880T: Published: Sep 29, 2016. Publicly Released: Sep 29, 2016.
Employees 39 years of age and younger represented approximately 45 percent of the United States employed civilian labor force and about 30 percent of the civilian federal workforce in fiscal year 2014. This group includes the millennial generation. The percent of millennials within the federal workforce varies by agency and agencies that have high rates of retirement eligibility also tend to have...