GAO cautions agencies against training duplication

Federal agencies should avoid overlapping and duplicating their training efforts, according to a new study from the General Accounting Office.

The watchdog agency worked with five federal agencies-the Army Corps of Engineers, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Veterans Health Administration-to identify crucial lessons learned in designing training and development programs.

GAO auditors recommended that agencies "establish mechanisms and controls to avoid unnecessary duplication or inconsistency within and across agencies' efforts."

The report (GAO-04-291) also recommended early planning to ensure that training and development efforts are integrated with ongoing programs. When possible, the GAO said, federal officials should use training personnel or materials from other agencies.

"Assess options for using other organizations' course content, staff, services, or facilities when designing a new training and development program in order to develop efficient and cost-effective strategies," the report stated.

GAO auditors also cited the importance of designing training programs based on identified skill needs.

"One common approach that officials used to help identify training needs was interviewing or surveying managers, supervisors and employees," the report said.

The report cited an OPM skills assessment conducted in 2001 and a three-day workforce planning council held by the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2002 as examples of establishing training needs.