Better Evaluation Needed For Federal Civilian Employee Training

FPCD-75-120: Published: Aug 12, 1975. Publicly Released: Aug 12, 1975.

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GAO reviewed the Civil Service Commission's (CSC) and federal agencies' civilian employees training evaluation methods.

GAO noted that: (1) about 960,000 civilian employees received a total of almost 45 million hours of training costing approximately $216 million; (2) GAO's questionnaire results show that the evaluation requirements of the Government Employees Training Act, the Executive Order supplementing the law, and the congressional subcommittee recommendations are not being met adequately; and (3) questionnaire results show that: (a) federal agencies found little use for the Civil Service Commission's Training Cost Model (TCM) for forecasting training costs; (b) although almost all respondents reported that they had written training course plans, the plans often lacked the specific features necessary for effective future course evaluation; (c) some performance measures were taken during the course, some on its completion, and some after the trainees return on the job; (d) in many cases the use of measures was so limited that effective evaluation was impossible; (e) while many respondents said that performance was assessed upon return to the job, the type, timing, and depth of this assessment often fell short of standards suggested by training authorities; (f) statistical and experimental evaluations were not widely conducted; those that were done were elementary; (g) however, over 60 percent of the respondents said that they were satisfied with the level of evaluations performed; (h) respondents' comments indicated that problems with training were widespread among departments; and (i) most respondents who were dissatisfied with the level of evaluations lacked resources, statistical and experimental know-how, or management support.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman, CSC, should: (1) work with federal departments and agencies on the findings and problems identified in this report; (2) follow up to determine steps taken by the departments and agencies for improvement; (3) reemphasize that it is the departments' and agencies' primary responsibility to control and evaluate training for their employees; and (4) monitor the evaluation of training in the departments and agencies and promote successful methods of evaluation. Specific actions of CSC should include: (1) defining and achieving a consensus among the executive departments and agencies on elements that make up the total cost of training and then insuring that data on these elements is uniformly determined and collected; (2) determining why TCM has been little used, amending and refining it accordingly, and then increasing efforts to publicize TCM to training officials at all levels; and (3) helping the departments and agencies develop written course plans which include instructions for course delivery, measuring results, and modifying and updating the course.

    Agency Affected:


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