Inter-agency agreement seeks to boost federal employee training

April 28

Two of the government’s central management agencies on Monday announced a partnership designed to make it easier and less expensive for agencies to provide training to their employees, one casualty of tight budgets in recent years.

Agencies will be able to use a centralized General Services Administration-run procurement system when requesting outside training services, and the Office of Personnel Management will assess bidders to determine whether they meet government-wide standards and the agency’s specific needs.

Currently, OPM operates a training procurement system of its own, while GSA is the central point of contact for agencies seeking to purchase many other types of services, as well as equipment and office space. The new system, outlined in a memo of understanding signed at OPM headquarters, is to take effect during the upcoming fiscal year.

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta. (Courtesy of OPM).
OPM Director Katherine Archuleta. (Courtesy of OPM).

“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 at the signing ceremony. “Under this agreement, 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.”

GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini said the agreement will allow agencies to “focus less on the acquisition activity and more on the program itself. . . . By marrying the two areas of expertise, you’re going to get a better contract and a better outcome.”

The officials said they expect the arrangement will result in better training as well as cost savings.

Revitalizing training programs is one of the priority items for federal employees in the White House’s recent budget proposal, which called cutbacks “short-sighted.”

“Agencies reduced their investments in training, including in technical, soft skills, and leadership topic areas to stave off deeper reductions in force and/or furloughs,” the budget said. “These de­cisions generated the short-term savings needed to meet sequestration levels, but could have a long-term impact on the Federal government’s ability to meet its mission objectives and to deliver services to the American people.”

Satisfaction with training is one of the numerous areas in which employee views of their workplace have eroded in recent years, according to the annual government-wide survey.

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