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Posted by on Apr 17, 2014

Is It Time for a Training Line of Business?

TimeMoneyReducing budgets and increasing efficiency is standard fodder these days in all discussions about Federal Government operations. Whether discussions focus on government civilian pay and pay systems, retirement contributions, veterans’ benefits, redundant and overlapping programs, or Federal real estate, the need to improve return on investment and reduce spending is a pervasive theme.

For more than a decade, the Federal Government has been introducing line of business (LOB) initiatives to reduce redundancy and increase process and system standardization using shared services. LOB initiatives include financial management, security, and human resources. A 2009 Cost Benefit Analysis conducted by NASA estimated that the HR LOB managed by OPM would save more than $1.3 billion in costs.

As downward pressure on the Federal budget continues, consolidation of redundant services into shared service LOBs should continue across the Federal Government. Perhaps one area that warrants serious consideration for consolidation into a shared service center is in the procurement of cross-domain competency training. With agencies at all levels of the government challenged to provide needed training to personnel, breaking down silos between agencies and removing redundant infrastructure required to procure, delivery, manage, and evaluate training on core common competencies may offer a way to stretch Federal training investment.

To promote dialog on the consolidation and sharing of training across Federal agencies, here are few positives and potential negatives associated with creating an interagency training shared services center.

Pros:

Cons:

More efficient administration of training and training contracts

More efficient may not mean less expensive

Streamlined administration reduces overhead burden and workload (for agencies and contractors)

Shared service center becomes a “single point of failure” for procuring training that could lead to delays in contract awards

Increased consistency in quality of training offerings

Less ability to customize training to the specific agency context

Removes redundant training management systems and infrastructures

Integrating agency specific technical training into a shared serviced learning infrastructure could require significant investment

Uniform training evaluations enable better evaluations of effectiveness / ROI across programs and vendors

Harder to create evaluations that link directly to agency specific performance measures

 

In her closing remarks for the National Treasury Employees Union annual legislative conference, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta, noted that the 2015 budget will include measures to “support the exchange of training ideas across government.” This idea exchange could be an important first step in moving to a training shared services concept.

Open and thoughtful dialog about how to save money while providing the high quality training experiences Federal workers need (and deserve) has to be the cornerstone of any meaningful effort to optimize return on investment for government training resources.

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