Improvements Needed in the Army's Program for Developing Extension Training Materials for Use by Soldiers in Field Units

NSIAD-85-73: Published: Jun 17, 1985. Publicly Released: Jun 17, 1985.

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GAO reviewed the Army's program for developing extension training materials to improve individual soldier proficiency in field units, including: (1) indications of low usage of Training Extension Course lessons by soldiers in the field; (2) improvements needed in the process for developing extension training materials; and (3) the need for further evaluation before the Army commits itself to procuring a new electronic information delivery system.

GAO noted that: (1) Army studies, audits, and other data since 1979 have characterized the use of training materials as low for the extension courses; (2) the Army did not have criteria specifying what acceptable usage levels for individual training materials are; and (3) none of the studies or surveys fully explored the reasons for what was characterized and reported as low usage levels. GAO found that the Army has initiated actions to improve its process for developing extension training materials by issuing guidance for development. The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) stated that materials must be needed and wanted by field units on the basis of the identification of critical tasks; however, GAO found that TRADOC schools were not obtaining field unit input on needs for extension training materials. GAO also found that: (1) the Army planned to procure a new electronic information delivery system to be distributed on the basis of user demand; (2) the Army needs to proceed cautiously in procuring the new system for field use until after it has made the needed management improvements in the program for developing extension training materials; and (3) TRADOC needs to define what the determination of field needs for training products means and include it in its guidance procedures for obtaining field unit input.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Electronic Information Delivery System (EIDS) extension training materials will be developed and distributed based on target population analysis in accordance with TRADOC Regulation 350-7 and Circular 351-86-1. Proponents will analyze use and demand annually and will track usage starting in fiscal year (FY) 1989 after a limited test of use and procedures in 25 field units.

    Recommendation: To improve the extension training materials program, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Commander, TRADOC, to develop criteria for what is to be considered an actual or a stated field need for extension training materials to include what are acceptable usage levels for the materials.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has published policy and procedures responsive to the recommendation. Guidance includes TRADOC Regulation 350-15, TRADOC Training and Quality Assurance Procedures, dated June 3, 1988, and TRADOC Regulation 350-7, Systems Approach to Training, dated February 26, 1988.

    Recommendation: To improve the extension training materials program, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Commander, TRADOC, to delineate procedures in TRADOC guidance which specify: (1) how schools should obtain field input on actual needs; and (2) how this input is to be used in developing materials.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: TRADOC, as an element of its review of the process of identifying and meeting field training support needs, has begun to ensure the systematic checking of training materials use and effectiveness. Feedback line established by DA Pamphlet 261-6 and TRADOC Circular 351-86-1. EIDS automatically records EIDS use.

    Recommendation: To improve the extension training materials program, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Commander, TRADOC, to obtain feedback on individual training materials usage and effectiveness for the purposes of incorporating lessons learned into the development of requirements for new extension training materials and determining the need to revise existing materials.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Projected hardware procurement cost declined from $100.3 million in FY 1984 to $63.6 million in FY 1987, caused by buying greater quantities earlier and spreading funding into later years. Prior to wide spread use of EIDS extension training materials, a test in 25 units will be conducted between January 1988 and June 1989.

    Recommendation: Concerning the Army's plans to procure the new video-disc equipment units for field use, the Secretary of the Army should reevaluate the FY 1989 procurement plan using test results of field use and need.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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