TSA uses e-learning as part of its culture

When lawmakers mandated the creation of the Transportation Security Administration in 2001, officials had to quickly hire and train thousands of security workers for the nation's airports. They turned to an e-learning management system to track employees' records, reporting, course-planning resources and job qualifications.

Nancy Watson, director of learning systems at TSA's Office of Workforce Performance and Training, said agency officials tapped Plateau Systems' e-Learning suite, which provides the back-end structure for e-learning and classroom training programs.

"Looking at 50,000-plus potential students, we wanted an application that was scalable," Watson said. "The ability to relatively quickly implement an enterprisewide solution, to deliver e-learning content and the ability to make it part of" TSA's culture from the get-go were all reasons agency officials chose Plateau's product.

Within 10 months TSA officials trained more than 50,000 airport screeners to use Plateau's e-learning software. More than 60 percent of TSA's staff has been trained, and about 3,500 employees log on to TSA's Web site daily for ongoing education.

Paul Sparta, Plateau's chief executive officer, said he understood the immediate relevance of TSA's mission. "It's the kind of a project that you feel really good about being involved with," he said.

"We do everything from the learning requirements of the screener to getting [threat] information ...to 50,000 screeners," Sparta said. "It's very much a system that provides day-to-day support of the TSA's mission."

Plateau's tool launches, delivers and tracks lessons on passenger searches

at airports, privacy protections and basic skills. The tool can calculate deadlines and target curricula based on job description.

It also has courses about dealing with argumentative people, managing stress, improving communications and speaking English.

The system falls under Lockheed Martin's specialized security training contract for TSA's passenger and baggage screeners. The contract was awarded in May 2003 with an initial value of $8.9 million for one year and four one-year options. TSA officials spent $2.5 million on initial costs for the online training center and will spend $2.3 million a year for ongoing maintenance.

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Agencies tap into e-learning system

Plateau Systems' e-learning program is becoming popular at some government agencies for its scalability and features. It can manage individual training plans, curricula and promotions, while sharing that information within agencies. A host of organizations use the e-learning software including:

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department in North Carolina.

Defense Logistics Agency.

Agriculture Department.

Energy Department — at sites in Kansas City, Mo.; Nevada; and Hanford, Wash.; among others.

Justice Department.

Transportation Department.

Department of Veterans Affairs.

National Nuclear Security

Administration.

Gov Online Learning Center.

Internal Revenue Service.

Transportation Security Administration.

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