Improving Training at Your Agency Just Got A Lot Easier

GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Two federal agencies announced on Monday a joint effort to boost training and other human capital services for agencies across government, saying the move would save money and improve human resources support.

The Office of Personnel Management has partnered with the General Services Administration to create a contract vehicle that will ease the process for agencies to hire private companies for HR consulting. While OPM and GSA are still finalizing the details of the arrangement, a memorandum of understanding signed Monday spelled out a system that eases agencies away from the acquisition process for their human capital needs.

The strategically sourced initiative is “really going to allow us to focus less on acquisition activity and more on program activity,” said GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini, at a press conference to mark the signing.

In the partnership, GSA will focus primarily on the acquisition side, while OPM will provide subject matter expertise on the program, using its Human Resources Services office to investigate potential vendors’ qualifications and later helping match agencies with an organization that fits their specific requirements.

“We are teaming up to give agencies a more efficient, a more reliable and a more effective way to get the best available training and human capital resources for federal employees,” OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said. “We are marrying the strengths GSA has when it comes to negotiating and carrying out contracts with OPM’s expertise in human capital and training needs.”

The program “reflects current budget realities,” she said, but ultimately the program will aim to better meet the training needs of the 21st century workforce, not just save costs by reducing acquisition redundancies. 

The initiative will get acquisition “out of the way of training so more [training] can be had,” Tangherlini said, “and it can be delivered at a better value.” OPM’s Human Resources Services division itself shed 300 employees earlier this year.

The joint venture reflects the management agenda laid out in President Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget. His plan called on agencies to “share services and leverage the buying power of the government to bring greater value and efficiency for taxpayer dollars.” Obama said his budget “invests in the government’s most important resource, its workers, ensuring that we can attract and retain the best talent in the federal workforce and foster a culture of excellence.”

“Today’s announcement of the GSA and OPM partnership to improve how we buy human resources services and training is great news for the taxpayer,” Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director for Management Beth Cobert said. “By leveraging the core competencies of these agencies, we will reduce redundancy, increase administrative efficiencies and realize cost savings.”

Archuleta, who was sworn in on Nov. 5, 2013, said she met with Tangherlini in her first few days on the job and the training acquisition partnership was the first cooperative idea the pair came up with. The OPM director said she hoped the initiative was the “first of…many areas where OPM and GSA can collaborate together to bring efficiencies to government.” 

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