The Chief Learning Officer’s Council found agencies were paying significantly different amounts of money for similar learning management systems. And because every agency uses some kind of LMS to track how employees are meeting their continuing education requirements, they saw an opportunity.
Karlease Kelly, provost of the Agriculture Department’s Virtual University, deputy chief human capital officer at USDA and chairwoman of the federal Chief Learning Officer’s Council, said applying shared services to agency LMSs could bring some standardization in the services and bring down cost to the government.
“We are looking with the Office of Personnel Management into the possibility of getting a few of the providers to do something called shared services, which would create some type of contract using the collective buying power of the federal government to drive down the costs of actually providing this service and help us do a little bit better with standardizing this service,” Kelly said after speaking at a recent conference. “The other thing would be making it a little bit more affordable so even some of the agencies that don’t have the service could actually begin to have it.”
Kelly said the council found in conversations with CLOs that what each agency was paying varied enough for a base set of services that the opportunity for a shared basic platform made sense.
“We know each agency probably has some customized features that may add to the cost, but we also know there is a basic service that everyone needs,” she said. “I think this is really in the beginning stages and people should be looking out for this. When it comes to these types of services, it’s a handful of organizations that provide these types of services. It’s not something the Chief Learning Officer’s Council would do, it’s something we have some input in to.”
While the LMS-as-a-service is still in the development stage, Kelly said the council is rolling out several other initiatives over the next year.
Chief learning officers are playing an important role in implementing the 2015 executive order to strengthen the Senior Executive Service.
OPM has been developing a mentoring hub for all agencies. Kelly said the hub currently resides in the OMBMax portal.
“The CLO Council has been involved with OPM to help them develop training resources for mentors, to develop guidance to provide some structure for the mentoring, and we are very excited about launching this and moving this out,” she said. “OPM also has special and separate mentoring initiatives just for the SES, called situational mentoring. Experienced SES can volunteer and say they have expertise in one or another area with regard to the executive core qualifications, like leading change or leading people or building coalitions. New SESers can tap into that and just ask for advice from a senior level person who is in the network.”
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Also as part of the EO, the council is working with the Department of Health and Human Services on a new federal coaching network.
“HHS was working on building a coaching culture and started a training program to develop internal coaches,” Kelly said. “As our funding shrinks, we know we still need to provide services and we may not be able to afford an external coach. If we develop people internally, we can continue to provide those services, plus it’s a developmental opportunity for the person getting the coaching training.”
The coaches in the network are linked with the International Coaching Federation program, which accredits executives who have gone through the training.
“We are starting to get a lot of our coaches certified,” Kelly said. “Once upon a time, coaching was mostly for the really high performers or the people who had a lot of problems. When we really start to roll this out, coaching is something that can be for everyone because we have these people embedded within the organization that can provide the coaching so that really does leverage the whole effort to drive the high performance.”
The council also acts as a conduit of information about opportunities for training in and out of government as well as best practices for improving onboarding or coaching programs.
Kelly said the coaching program is in its third year and takes about a year for someone to go through the program to become certified.
She said an expanded mentoring hub should be available to federal employees later this year.
Another initiative the CLO Council is working on with the Chief Human Capital Officer’s Council is a standardized training curriculum for human resources workers. The goal is to certify these employees in different disciplines.
The council also is working closely with OPM to develop a talent development index — similar to a diversity and inclusion index or the global satisfaction index.
Kelly said the index would go along with the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey as a way to promote the importance of developing workers as a factor in employee engagement.
“We proposed to OPM maybe 10 items that we thought were related to training and development that are on the current FEVS. Unbeknownst to us at that time, OPM also was conducting a story on the drivers of employee engagement,” she said. “Their study showed only two items in the FEVS that were linked to unique contributions. I don’t think it was exactly what we were looking for, but we were really glad to see training and development was recognized in their study.”
Kelly added that the council was pleased with the recognition from OPM and others that training and development were important factors in employee engagement.