A new memorandum of agreement between the Defense Department and the Office of Personnel Management promises to reduce the cost for training for defense employees and enhance the training experience.
The two agencies signed the memo May 3, making OPM's “USALearning” program DOD's partner as the "centralized source for training, education, and domain-specific expertise."
The agreement will save DOD money and will make training employees easier, said Lisa Hershman, DOD’s acting chief management officer. The move also is squarely aligned with the president’s management agenda, she added.
"Talking about the USALearning reform initiative is actually very exciting," Hershman said. “You know the president's management agenda has prioritized three areas of reform: information technology modernization, data transparency and accountability, and the workforce of the 21st century. This reform initiative is one of those rare initiatives that addresses all three.”
As part of the agreement, DOD will centralize the creation, procurement and distribution for online learning and training programs for its employees. As many as 50,000 courses exist across 161 training distribution platforms within DOD, Hershman said.
The partnership will help consolidate DOD learning technology software platforms, associated cloud server delivery platforms, licensing, and related training and education activities through the USALearning shared services center. The partnership is expected to produce a DOD-wide common course catalog and online access portal hosted by USALearning, as well as a DOD-wide common record repository.
Partnering with OPM is expected to save the DOD $22 million in 2020, and over the next five years, it's projected to save $122 million.
Hershman noted that some 40,000 employees move from one DOD agency to another each year, often requiring them to repeat mandatory online training they’d already completed at their previous agency. The partnership with OPM will mean not only a centralized course catalog for training, but also centralized learning records so that when employees move, they will not have to retake training.
"This is a pivotal step in becoming easier to do business with, and that's usually thought of in terms of our customers and our constituents,” Hershman said. “But this is actually one that will greatly reduce the complexity for our employees.”
Acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert said that working with DOD, considering its size, will benefit not just DOD and OPM, but the rest of government as well.
"We're now at a place where we can actually leverage the scale that we've got and take it to the next level," Weichert said.
"This partnership is obviously going to benefit DOD, but it benefits the broader government environment as well. It leverages the shared infrastructure, and it leverages data,” she continued. “Looking at a large population like the DOD population -- the largest population in government -- and being able to consistently look at how we are training what the outcomes are, what does that mean for mobility in terms of serving the mission, the agility of the workforce, responding to new changes in this mission? The learnings we're going to get here will enable us to do more for the rest of government, at scale."