Information Technology: Training Can Be Enhanced by Greater Use of Leading Practices

GAO-04-791 Published: Jun 24, 2004. Publicly Released: Jul 26, 2004.
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Effective training of information technology (IT) staff, as called for in the E-Government (E-Gov) Act of 2002, is essential to developing and retaining a qualified workforce. In an earlier report (GAO-03-390), we identified 22 leading practices, grouped into 5 key training management processes, used by private-sector companies to implement effective IT training. These practices suggest approaches that government agencies could consider. To assess IT training in the federal government, including its use of leading practices, we were asked to determine, among other things, to what extent federal agencies use our leading practices, the major obstacles in providing effective IT training and how agencies address them, and the progress the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is making in issuing policies and performing evaluations to encourage agencies to provide effective IT training.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Personnel Management As part of OPM's oversight responsibilities under the E-Gov Act, the Director of OPM should issue government-wide IT training policies, consistent with our strategic training guide, that promote development of performance standards for training and encourage agencies to use the leading practices that we identified.
Closed – Implemented
The Director, OPM, issued a memorandum on January 31, 2005, to chief human capital officers setting out policies for development of training standards. The memo cites SI's Guide for Assessing Strategic Training as a reference in regard to performing assessments.
Office of Personnel Management As part of OPM's oversight responsibilities under the E-Gov Act, the Director of OPM should set specific milestones for evaluating agency implementation of the provisions cited above.
Closed – Not Implemented
OPM has not set milestones for evaluating agencies' implementation of the E-Gov Act's information technology (IT) training provisions. The act calls for agencies to have IT training programs that (a) have curricula covering a broad range of information technology disciplines; (b) are developed and applied according to rigorous standards; and (c) are designed to maximize efficiency through the use of such measures as self-paced courses, online courses, and on-the-job training. OPM could not provide any evidence that it has established milestones for evaluating agencies' implementation of these three provisions.

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