The federal government employs a huge workforce across its disparate agencies. These employees span a wide range of professions, areas of expertise and even geographies.
However, all government employees have one thing in common – aside from working for the government. They all require training and professional development to ensure they’re up to date with the latest technologies, best practices, policies and government regulations.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently conducted a study about the training being given to federal employees, and just how effective and efficient agency training programs are. According to the resulting report, the study analyzed whether agencies put processes in place to prioritize training investments that are aligned with leading practices. It also sought to identify if the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) guidance in developing training investment strategies was aligned with leading practices.
The study surveyed 27 Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCOs) at four agencies – Departments of Energy, Homeland Security, Department of Interior and Veterans Affairs – about their training programs. They then compared the results against leading practices previously detailed by GAO.
The results detailed in the resulting report paint a somewhat unfortunate picture. The GAO found that the CHCOs at government agencies were utilizing some leading practices, but there were still areas where redundancy and inefficiencies were present.
One of the issues identified was a lack of clarity into what sub-agencies and their leaders are doing when it comes to training, which often leads to multiple sub-agencies investing in the same training for their employees. The results are redundancy and agencies not taking full advantage of the efficiencies of scale that could be available to them if they operated as one, cohesive unit.
So, what can be done to increase the efficiency of professional development and training in the federal government?
OPM already has HR University, a website designed to provide training for the HR community within federal agencies. HR University has saved the government $14.5 million since its inception by sharing HR training government-wide. This program could be expanded to include other job functions and trainings and made available across the federal government, essentially centralizing much of the training in the government and increasing efficiency.
But we’ll take the HR University concept a step further. What if the federal government were to embrace Unified Communications (UC) solutions such as video teleconferencing (VTC) for all training, across all agencies?
In this environment, training classes necessary for all government employees, or even a small population of government employees, could be made available from qualified instructors via video. These classes could be accessible to any agency, anywhere, since there’s no need to physically travel to the instructor, or have the instructor travel to the agency. In addition, CHCOs from multiple agencies could schedule classes for their employees together to increase class sizes and get the most bang for their training buck.
And this content would be richer and more useful than simple webinars and online classes. Classes and educational content taught via VTC enables the same level of interaction and engagement as classes held in a classroom, since teachers and students are capable of seeing and communicating with each other in real time.
In addition, training classes conducted via video can also be recorded. These recorded training classes can be stored in centralized content servers where government employees could log in and receive on-demand access to the educational content that they need.
Training and professional development are an essential part of ensuring that our federal workforce has the knowledge and tools needed to serve our country and its citizens. By centralizing training programs and embracing VTC for delivering training classes, the government can still provide high quality educational content while increasing efficiency and reducing redundancy.