Replenishing the ranks
- By Dan Caterinicchia, Dan Caterinicchia
- May 29, 2000
The federal work force could lose nearly a million employees over the next
few years from retirement alone. So it is more important than ever for agencies
to set aside money for initiatives to train and retain workers, including
World Wide Web-based training and Internet forums.
To underscore this point, one top lawmaker recently urged the government
to consider a strategic training plan that would address the transformations
occurring in the federal work force and the commercial marketplace.
Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) said that not all federal agencies are
emphasizing training programs the way they should. And the need is urgent.
By 2004, 32 percent of the federal work force will be eligible for regular
retirement and another 21 percent will qualify for early retirement, Voinovich
said during a hearing of the Senate Oversight of Government Management,
Restructuring and the District of Columbia Subcommittee. "And there are
high-tech skills being acquired in the private sector at a pace that the
government cannot currently match," Voinovich said.
Others agree that training is essential for the future success of agencies.
"I believe training is the anchor to a successful and strong work force
and that we need to invest in these critical training programs," Sen. Daniel
Akaka (D-Hawaii) said at the hearing.
Some agencies are increasingly turning to innovative ways to train their
employees. For example, the Labor Department delivers employment law training
to federal employees and small businesses through expert systems. And the
State Department teaches 60 foreign languages using a mix of computer-based
training, satellite downlinks, video and audio systems, and the Internet,
according to John Sepulveda, deputy director of the Office of Personnel
However, most agencies do not have separate training budgets and even
fewer have benchmarked training requirements. In fact, only a handful of
agencies — including the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of
Veterans Affairs and Social Security Administration — have previously requested
major training investments, according to the written testimony of Deidre
Lee, acting deputy director for management at the Office of Management and
However, such investments may become more widespread. OMB plans to help
agencies incorporate training goals and measures into their annual performance
plans, specifically for their fiscal 2002 budgets, Sepulveda said.
In addition, he said that OPM, which has statutory responsibility for
governmentwide training policy and guidance, is working on training programs
that affect all levels of government employees.
In the area of executive development, OPM is exploring ways of using
the Internet to increase interaction among federal managers.
"In response to requests for a centralized information database of executive
development opportunities, we are partnering with agencies to provide an
electronic clearinghouse for such opportunities," Sepulveda said.
OPM is also using an online tool to help senior executives broaden their
work experience through mobility. "To assist in this, we are developing
an Internet forum to facilitate voluntary mobility by linking interested
executives with agency opportunities," he said.
Ultimately, how well agencies define the competencies necessary to do
their jobs will be the key to making progress, Sepulveda said. "Agencies
need to define the competencies to meet their missions. They need to identify
their training needs, and then the OMB can work with them to get the appropriate
measures in the budget process."
OPM is already testing draft competencies as well as draft specialty
job titles for IT workers.