The Government Accountability Office reviewed executive training costs and the value of this type of training. While executive training is useful (the feedback confirmed this), the methods and costs of the trainings were called into question. One real issue with GAO’s review is the reliability of the data. Half of the agencies provided incomplete or unreliable data. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has agreed that the data issues need to be resolved; however, at this point, the agency has demonstrated progress. Agencies are required to report training plans, expenditures, activities, and data to OPM, so the onus is on OPM to hold agencies accountable for improving reporting and data collection.

Despite the unreliable data issues, GAO did determine some issues and helpful takeaways that could save taxpayer dollars, and make the job of Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) easier.

  • Assessment of training impact on agency mission is lacking. While some agencies adjusted training based on participant feedback, few reported assessing whether the training was effective or relevant to the agency mission. CHCOs indicated that time, cost, and difficulty as the main constraints for not conducting this level of evaluation.
  • Interagency collaboration or centralized training is lacking. Shared facilities or centrally funded training facilities or programs would help reduce training costs. The less sharing between the agencies, the more duplicate efforts there will be. While centralized training seems like a simple solution, it could take time to create. Since training plans are already in place at each agency, agency training partnerships would be a faster solution to reducing training costs.
  • Support from OPM is lacking. CHCOs have reported the need for OPM to provide assistance in implementing proper evaluations, to share lessons learned from other agencies, and to assist in either providing more centralized training options or connecting agencies together.

Big takeaway: How do we move towards more interagency collaboration? What are the barriers? This is not just a training issue. It is not uncommon for agencies to operate in a vacuum. It seems like such a simple solution to have leaders conversing with on another about shared resources; however, the reality is that for those in the middle of everything, interagency collaboration feels improbable. In regards to training, OPM can facilitate interagency interaction simply by sharing best practices and lessons learned.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.