Moving Toward Efficiency

E-learning and Training Promise to Hold the Key to Saving Federal Inter-Agency Dollars

In the coming months, the Office of Management and Budget will unveil an improved version of USAspending.gov and a new Performance Dashboard, says Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients. Zients says the Performance Dashboard, which was included in the fiscal 2011 budget, will be unveiled this coming summer.

This is good news for e-learning professionals; study after study — especially in the private sector — has proven that e-learning can provide significant dollar savings compared to traditional learning. It can also provide economy of scale if implemented across various federal agencies.

A good example exists with the Department of Veterans’Affairs, as you can read on page 20. “We don’t have anything that we would do that government-wide at this point in time,” says VA. Acquisition Academy chancellor Lisa Doyle. “However, I serve on the Federal Acquisition Intern Coalition Advisory Council, where we’re looking at ways we can network and connect all interns across government.”

The new federal program aims to provide the public with a clear, concise picture of federal goals and measures by theme, by agency, by program and by program type. The performance site also will link to other sites, such as the IT Dashboard and others planned for procurement, improper payments and hiring.

“The overall goal, if you will, is to do more with less,” says Zients. “We expect agencies to do a better job of deploying existing resources to what’s most important.”

The Veterans’ Affairs Department, Zients notes, halted 45 information technology projects after information from the dashboard showed them to be behind schedule or over budget. Twelve of the programs were terminated.

Look for the federal government to pursue these goals this year:

>> Eliminating or reforming misguided spending programs and tax expenditures to maximize returns for taxpayers.
>> Boosting government productivity by modernizing practices.
>> Adopting decision-making reforms and harnessing new technology to promote open, evidence based government.

The Center for American Progress believes that the American people have a growing lack of faith in the government’s ability to function effectively, says its president, John Podesta: “We won’t win public support for progressive goals until the public knows that the government is committed to doing what works. We can achieve greater results at lower costs in areas like education, energy and health care. The nation’s fiscal outlook makes this project especially urgent.”

The aforementioned goals cannot be implemented without the cooperation of agency heads. If the VA’s Doyle is any indication, prospects for success are entirely positive:

“This is our life right now, and we love it,” she told me. “I’m a public servant at heart, and 53 percent of our interns are veterans, so we very much believe in our mission.”

—Jerry Roche
Editorial director

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