DOD shifts employee training to OPM's USA Learning

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The Department of Defense is moving the management of its skills training courses to the Office of Personnel Management and the government's centralized learning and development program.

DOD acting Chief Management Officer Lisa Hershman said May 3 that moving  online training courses to OPM's USA Learning platform would cut costs and better target training for employees.

OPM acting Director Margaret Weichert said the move advances the administration's broader effort to reskill the federal workforce and centralize services to reduce duplication by bringing on board "the largest pool of employment we have in government."

Hershman touted the move as addressing the three reform areas highlighted in the President's Management Agenda -- IT modernization, data transparency and accountability, as well as modernizing the federal workforce.

Hershman said that DOD projects joining USA Learning, in addition to making DOD easier to do business with and simplifying training, will save $22 million in 2020 alone.

The cost savings, projected by an analysis team within DOD, will come from reducing duplication in training, systems and procurement, said William Peratino, OPM's deputy director for new and emerging HR technologies. Peratino also said the goal is for users to not notice a disruption, but instead a more personalized training regimen, grouped by competency, that better caters to how different employees learn.

Another advantage Weichert pointed to was that by centralizing the training, it will be easier to track and give employees credit for training they've already completed -- and can avoid repeating training with each new job "if it's on a different system."

"You could actually be paying to train a person twice in one year for a routine activity," she said. "They need to be able to actually get credit for the training that they've done."

The move is also "subset" of DOD's effort to reduce its number of management systems, Hershman said, adding that DOD current hosts approximately 50,000 learning courses spread across 161 disparate systems.

Given the number of civilians alone who transfer between different branches -- about 40,000 a year, estimated Nikki Cabezas, initiative lead on the IT and business system reform team at DOD -- employees currently have to retake the same courses upon transfer.

Further, DOD is onboarding a new program manager to oversee the training partnership.

Weichert also said the training courses offered across government are in need of a revamp. While there is "a lot of redundancy we need to identify" in course offerings, she said, "it's premature to say what's the right number of courses" to offer.

"There could be many more courses we don't offer" that should be added, she added.

Still, this announcement is the "tip of the iceberg" when it comes to reskilling and enabling employee movement across government, said Weichert.

"What we're trying to do more of across government is enable people to move more often, or to provide opportunities around reskilling, and also to make careers and skills more transferrable," she said.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a former FCW staff writer.


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