oversight

Information Technology Training: Practices of Leading Private-Sector Companies

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-01-31.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

               United States General Accounting Office

GAO            Report to Congressional Requesters




January 2003
               INFORMATION
               TECHNOLOGY
               TRAINING
               Practices of Leading
               Private-Sector
               Companies




GAO-03-390
               a
                                               January 2003


                                               INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY TRAINING

                                               Practices of Leading Private-Sector
Highlights of GAO-03-390, a report to the      Companies
Chairman, Tom Davis, Committee on
Government Reform and Representative
Jim Turner, House of Representatives




The rapid pace of technological                GAO identified 22 existing and emerging training practices used by leading
change, with its potential to                  companies to implement effective IT training. We organized these practices
transform the way the government               and accompanying case studies under five training management processes
delivers services, makes                       that we defined based on input from industry experts, published research,
information technology (IT) human              and previous GAO work (see table below). Although none of the companies
capital a critical issue for federal
agencies.
                                               was performing all the practices, the majority performed 10 or more.

GAO has identified strategic human             Organizations and experts agree that these practices could result in more
capital management as a high risk              effective training management, but in applying the identified practices, we
area for the federal government,               noted several critical issues (e.g., funding constraints and demonstrating
and the demand for skilled IT                  return on investment) that should be considered. The practices may also
workers is expected to increase                suggest approaches to IT training for government agencies to consider.
over the long term. Given that
competition for workers affects the            GAO’s discussions with leading private sector companies indicate that
federal government as it does any              training is not simply a support function, but a strategic element in achieving
other employer, effective training             corporate objectives. Further, although companies are adopting new ideas
of staff is essential to developing
and retaining a qualified workforce.
                                               about training, many initiatives are in their early stages, and private sector
                                               officials expressed interest in learning about innovative practices emerging
Some private-sector companies are              from the public sector.
recognized for their effective and
innovative training programs for               IT Training Management Processes and Sample Practices (see app. I for full list)
the IT workforce, which could                   Management processes     Sample practices
provide models and examples for                 Align IT training with   Enlist executive-level champions
federal agencies. To help federal               business goals
                                                                         Involve critical stakeholders
agencies better design and                      Identify and assess IT   Document competencies/skills required for each job description
implement such training programs,               training needs
                                                                         Perform a gap analysis to determine needed training
GAO was asked to examine private-
                                                Allocate IT training     Use an investment process to select and manage training projects
sector practices for training both IT           resources                Provide resources for management training, e.g., leadership and
and non-IT professionals (e.g.,
                                                                            project management
business managers and other staff              Design and deliver IT        Give trainees choices among different training delivery methods
needing training in IT) that could             training
be used as a basis for addressing                                           Build courses using reusable components
federal efforts.                               Evaluate/demonstrate the     Collect information on how job performance is affected by training
                                               value of IT training
                                                                            Assess evaluation results in terms of business impact

                                               Source: GAO.
                                               Note: Analysis of company-provided information.




www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-390.

To view the full report, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact Joel
Willemssen at (202) 512-6253 or
willemssenj@gao.gov.
Contents



Letter                                                                                                              1


Appendix
           Appendix I:   Information Technology Training                                                            4




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                         Page i                                        GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
A
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548



                                    January 31, 2003                                                                       Leter




                                    The Honorable Tom Davis
                                    Chairman
                                    Committee on Government Reform
                                    House of Representatives

                                    The Honorable Jim Turner
                                    House of Representatives

                                    The rapid pace of technological change, with its potential to transform the
                                    way the government delivers services, makes information technology (IT)
                                    human capital a critical issue for federal agencies. We have identified
                                    strategic human capital management as a high risk area. In the long term,
                                    demand for highly skilled IT workers is expected to increase. According to
                                    a 2002 study of private-sector employers by the Information Technology
                                    Association of America (ITAA), the demand for these highly skilled IT
                                    workers exceeds supply.1 Given that this reported shortage affects the
                                    federal government as it does any other employer, effective training of staff
                                    is essential to developing and retaining a qualified workforce.

                                    Our objective was to examine private-sector workforce training practices
                                    for both IT and non-IT professionals (e.g., business managers and other
                                    staff needing training in IT). To achieve this objective, we reviewed existing
                                    research, held discussions with academic and professional authorities, and
                                    interviewed executives and managers at leading companies about their IT
                                    training management practices and activities. We also collaborated with
                                    the National Academy of Science to host a panel discussion with academic
                                    authorities. The experts on this panel discussed overall training issues,
                                    provided input on training management processes, and identified other
                                    effective training practices. We used this information, as well as the
                                    extensive research and trade literature available on IT training practices, to
                                    develop a view of what leading private-sector organizations are doing in the
                                    IT training area.

                                    On October 18, 2002, we provided briefing slides on the results of our study
                                    to you in your capacities as Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the
                                    Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy. These results, along


                                    1
                                     Information Technology Association of America, Bouncing Back: Jobs, Skills, and the
                                    Continuing Demand for IT Workers (May 2002).




                                    Page 1                                       GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
with additional information and new and expanded case studies, are
included as an appendix to this letter. The purpose of this letter is to
officially transmit the information in published form to you as Chairman
and Member of the Committee on Government Reform.

In brief, we found 22 existing and emerging practices that are used by
leading companies to implement effective IT training. The majority of the
companies performed 10 or more of the identified practices, but none was
performing all. The practices and case studies provided in the appendix
suggest approaches to IT training that government agencies could consider.

In addition, we noted several critical issues (e.g., funding constraints and
demonstrating return on investment) that should be considered in
implementing these practices. GAO’s review of private-sector practices
indicates that training is not simply a support function, but a strategic
element in achieving corporate objectives. Further, although companies are
adopting new ideas about training, many initiatives are in their early stages,
and private-sector officials expressed interest in learning about innovative
practices emerging from the public sector.

Many organizations contributed to our study. American Telephone &
Telegraph (AT&T), Cable & Wireless, Cisco, Delta Technology, Fannie Mae,
FleetBoston, International Business Machines (IBM), International Truck
and Engine, Raytheon, Science Applications International Corporation
(SAIC), and United Services Automobile Association (USAA) all met with
us to discuss their training programs. The federal Chief Information
Officers (CIO) Council, the Information Technology Association of America
(ITAA), the Private Sector Council, and the American Society for Training &
Development (ASTD), as well as IT consulting firms Gartner and Giga, also
provided assistance and information.

Unless you publicly announce the contents of this report earlier, we plan no
further distribution until 30 days from the report date. At that time, we will
send copies of this report to interested congressional committees. In
addition, copies will be made available to others upon request. Copies of
this report are also available at no charge on GAO’s Web site at
www.gao.gov.




Page 2                                  GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
If you or your offices should have any questions concerning this report,
please contact me at (202) 512-6253 or Megen Davis, Assistant Director, at
(202) 512-6398. We can also be reached by E-mail at willemssenj@gao.gov
and davism@gao.gov, respectively. Key contributors to this report were
Barbara Collier, Vijay D’Souza, John Ortiz, Tomás Ramirez, Jr., and Glenn
Spiegel.




Joel Willemssen
Managing Director, Information Technology




Page 3                                GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
Appendix I

Information Technology Training                                                      AA
                                                                                      ppp
                                                                                        ep
                                                                                         ned
                                                                                           n
                                                                                           x
                                                                                           id
                                                                                            e
                                                                                            x
                                                                                            Iis




             Information Technology Training:
      Practices of Leading Private-Sector Companies



                Committee on Government Reform
                   House of Representatives




                                                                               1




                     Page 4                 GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                             Appendix I
                             Information Technology Training




                                                                               Contents

Introduction and Objective
Scope and Methodology
Background
Private-Sector Practices
  • Aligning IT training with business goals
  • Identifying and assessing IT training needs
  • Allocating IT training resources
  • Designing and delivering IT training
  • Evaluating/demonstrating the value of IT training
Critical Issues
Final Note



                                                                                                  2




                             Page 5                            GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                                 Appendix I
                                 Information Technology Training




                                                        Introduction and Objective

GAO has identified strategic human capital management as a high risk area for the
federal government. According to a study of private-sector employers by the
Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), the demand for skilled IT
workers exceeds supply, and the shortage is expected to continue.1 Given that the
shortage affects the federal government as it does any other employer, effective
training of existing staff is essential to developing and retaining a qualified
workforce.
Some private-sector companies are recognized for their effective and innovative
training programs, which could provide models and examples for federal agencies.
To help federal agencies better design and implement IT workforce training
programs, you asked us to examine private-sector training practices both for IT
professionals and for other staff needing IT training (e.g., business managers) that
could be used as a basis for addressing federal efforts.



1 InformationTechnology Association of America, Bouncing Back: Jobs, Skills and the Continuing Demand
for IT Workers (May 2002).
                                                                                                          3




                                 Page 6                                GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                           Appendix I
                           Information Technology Training




                                                      Scope and Methodology

We selected companies considered leaders in IT training by professional
organizations, publications, and academic experts. We based our selection on
awards, significant accolades, and expert recommendations. Specifically:
  • We searched published sources and the Internet for companies recognized as
    leaders by trade associations and industry publications. Examples include
    Computerworld and Training magazine rankings.
  • We solicited recommendations from industry and academic experts.
  • To identify and establish contacts with candidate companies, we consulted
    with
      • the federal Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council;
      • professional associations (the Information Technology Association of
        America, the Private Sector Council, and the American Society for Training
        & Development); and
      • IT consulting firms (Gartner and Giga).


                                                                                                4




                           Page 7                            GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                           Appendix I
                           Information Technology Training




                                                      Scope and Methodology

On the basis of our discussions and analyses, we conducted site visits at 11
companies identified as leaders in IT training:

 • American Telephone & Telegraph              • International Business Machines
   (AT&T)—Telecom                                (IBM)—Technology
 • Cable & Wireless—Telecom                    • International Truck and Engine—
                                                 Manufacturing
 • Cisco—Technology
                                               • Raytheon—Defense & Electronics
 • Delta Technology—Airline
                                               • Science Applications International
 • Fannie Mae—Finance
                                                 Corporation (SAIC)—Research &
 • FleetBoston—Finance                           Engineering
                                               • United Services Automobile
                                                 Association (USAA)—Finance &
                                                 Insurance



                                                                                                  5




                           Page 8                              GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                             Appendix I
                             Information Technology Training




                                                        Scope and Methodology

At the companies visited, we reviewed training program documentation and
interviewed executives, business unit managers, training managers, and training
recipients about their programs.
Specifically, we provided a standard set of questions to each company to obtain
information on the organizational placement, structure, and management of
training. We also obtained additional documentation on specific training initiatives.
We analyzed the data to identify existing and emerging training practices. The
majority of the companies performed 10 or more of the identified practices,
although none was performing all. However, organizations and experts agreed that
all the practices could result in more effective training management. The
companies also reviewed and commented on a draft list of the practices. These
practices may suggest improvements in public sector training programs.
We also analyzed the data to develop specific case studies that exemplified one or
more of the practices. At the conclusion of our research, all companies reviewed
and verified the accuracy of our descriptions of their training initiatives. We did not,
however, verify the accuracy of claims made by the companies.

                                                                                                  6




                             Page 9                            GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                            Appendix I
                            Information Technology Training




                                                       Scope and Methodology

To organize our work, we grouped the practices and case studies into five
categories (training management processes) that we identified based on input from
industry experts, published research, and our previous work. The categories are (1)
aligning IT training with business goals, (2) identifying and assessing IT training
needs, (3) allocating IT training resources, (4) designing and delivering IT training,
and (5) evaluating/demonstrating the value of IT training.
To validate our methodology, we consulted internal and external experts on
workforce development and training issues.
Also, as part of the consultative process, we collaborated with the National
Academies of Science to host a 1-day panel discussion with academic authorities.
The panel experts discussed overall training issues, validated our management
processes, and identified effective training practices. The panel’s insights provided
a broader perspective than companies alone could provide.




                                                                                                 7




                            Page 10                           GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                           Appendix I
                           Information Technology Training




                                                      Scope and Methodology

Further, we facilitated on-line discussions of preliminary results with academic,
private-sector, and cognizant GAO staff to solicit comments and feedback on key
issues.
We conducted our review from November 2001 to November 2002, in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards.




                                                                                                8




                           Page 11                           GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                               Appendix I
                               Information Technology Training




                                                                              Background

• Training is a vital part of the human capital equation. An organization’s
  approaches to human capital development and training should be aligned to
  support its mission, vision, goals and objectives, and strategies.
• According to a study by the National Association of Public Administration,2
  there is a lack of investment in continuous learning within the federal
  government. The study further stated that this lack of investment is especially
  problematic in the dynamic and rapidly changing world of IT.
• As companies are forced to develop and implement effective IT training
  programs with fewer resources, they are exploring innovative approaches to
  training using both existing and emerging practices.
• The following practices, grouped into management processes, may help
  federal agencies improve their IT training programs.



2 National
         Academy of Public Administration, The Transforming Power of Information Technology
(August 2001).
                                                                                                       9




                               Page 12                              GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                                           Appendix I
                                           Information Technology Training




                                                                           Private-Sector Practices
Align IT training with   • Enlist executive-level champions (sponsorship) to ensure that training strategies are incorporated into
business goals             corporate decisionmaking and aligned with business goals
                         • Involve critical stakeholders, such as top management, business unit managers, subject matter
                           experts, human capital staff, and end users, in planning IT training
                         • Address future skill needs and new technologies as part of the planning process
Identify and assess IT   • Identify and document competencies/skills required for each job description
training needs           • Maintain a current inventory of skills
                         • Address overall career development issues as well as skill-specific training issues
                         • Perform a gap analysis to determine where training is needed
                         • Use self-directed tools, such as individual development plans, to give employees responsibility in
                           assessing their development needs
                         • Use a single portal to give staff and managers access to training and career development information
Allocate IT training     • Ensure that an investment process is in place to select and manage training projects
resources                • Consider the benefits and costs associated with various training design and delivery methods—e.g.,
                           Internet-based as opposed to classroom training
                         • Identify people who have high potential and provide them specialized training opportunities
                         • Ensure that resources are allocated for management training—e.g., leadership and project
                           management
Design and deliver IT    • Provide IT trainees with the flexibility to choose among different IT training delivery methods
training                 • Ensure that on-the-job training is planned and monitored as part of the training process
                         • Consider combining different teaching methods (for example, Web-based and instructor-led) within the
                           same course
                         • Provide just-in-time training
                         • Consider outsourcing training solutions—e.g., university partnerships and external IT training and
                           content providers
                         • Build courses using reusable components
Evaluate/demonstrate     • Collect information on how job performance is affected by training
the value of IT          • Validate IT content learning by testing and certification of specific skills—e.g., Java or C++
training
                         • Assess evaluation results in terms of business impact

                                                                                                                                     10




                                           Page 13                                            GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                           Appendix I
                           Information Technology Training




Aligning IT Training with Business Goals
By linking IT training programs to their overall business strategy/goals, companies
can promote staff development that can best achieve corporate objectives.
While the majority of the companies we visited are performing one or more of the
key practices associated with aligning IT training to the overall goals of the
company, only two have developed comprehensive planning processes to achieve
this alignment.




                                                                                               11




                           Page 14                           GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                           Appendix I
                           Information Technology Training




                                        Aligning IT Training with Goals

Practices
  • Enlist executive-level champions (sponsorship) to ensure that training
    strategies are incorporated into corporate decisionmaking and aligned with
    business goals
  • Involve critical stakeholders, such as top management, business unit
    managers, subject matter experts, human capital staff, and end users, in
    planning IT training
  • Address future skill needs and new technologies as part of the planning
    process




                                                                                               12




                           Page 15                           GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                            Appendix I
                            Information Technology Training




                                         Aligning IT Training with Goals
                                                                               Case Study 1

A process was established to link learning strategy to overall business
direction.

Practice Illustrated
• Involve critical stakeholders

Background
Between 2001 and 2002, this large telecom company reorganized its training
program. The company believed it could no longer meet “new world challenges
using the old world model.” It did not have a process linking a well-planned and
defined training program to corporate business strategies.
Challenge
To create a process that links training to an overall business strategy to achieve
business objectives.




                                                                                                13




                            Page 16                           GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                            Appendix I
                            Information Technology Training




                                        Aligning IT Training with Goals
                                                                               Case Study 1

Solution
According to a senior training official, the company established the “Governance
Process Flow” model, which is intended to involve all levels of the company in
developing a training strategy linked to the business strategy. To ensure that all
stakeholders are included, corporate strategic information is communicated
throughout the company. The stakeholders include the following:
 • Learning Board (senior executives and one training organization representative)
 • Learning Council (executives and two training organization representatives)
 • Learning Services (training organization)
 • Business Lines (executives, managers, and directors)
Reported Results
Training is better linked to the overall business strategy.
Major business units and the training unit are now working together more
effectively because they understand how each unit is making a contribution to
achieving business goals.
                                                                                                14




                            Page 17                           GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                                                          Appendix I
                                                          Information Technology Training




                                                                       Aligning IT Training with Goals
                                                                                                                    Case Study 1

Governance Process Flow Model
                                                                                          Strategy is
  Learning                  •   Links strategy to business direction                    communicated
                            •   Approves learning strategy, funds budget                  from top to
  Board                     •   Evaluates metrics, validates plan                           bottom
                            •   Final authority on competing priorities


                            • Facilitates common threads
  Learning
                            • Evaluates metrics, validates plan
  Council                   • Oversees appeals process
                            • Validates budget


  Learning                  • Defines learning strategy
                            • Analyzes business needs/demand
  Services                  • Develops plan and metrics
                            • Establishes budget


  Business                  • Identify business needs/demand
                                                                                                          Metrics are  Issues needing
  Lines                     • Support business impact evaluation
                                                                                                        reported up to resolution are
                                                                                                           all levels      referred
                                                                                                                           upward
Source: Company-provided graphic, used with permission.



                                                                                                                                     15




                                                          Page 18                                  GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                            Appendix I
                            Information Technology Training




                                         Aligning IT Training with Goals
                                                                               Case Study 2

Strategic Learning Plan process helps align learning programs with
business priorities.

Practices Illustrated
• Enlist executive-level champions
• Involve critical stakeholders
• Address future skill needs and new
  technologies as part of the planning process

Background
As a multinational corporation with a complex organizational structure, this
technology company needed to create more cohesion between learning strategies
and the strategic planning process.
Challenge
To develop a corporate learning approach that aligns learning priorities with
business priorities.


                                                                                                16




                            Page 19                           GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                            Appendix I
                            Information Technology Training




                                         Aligning IT Training with Goals
                                                                               Case Study 2

Solution
The company established a process that develops a strategic learning plan that
aligns learning programs with business priorities. The process begins with
determining business priorities, and then identifying skill needs, potential learning
interventions to address gaps, and predicted business results. Part of this process,
the strategic learning framework, includes validating plans against strategic
business priorities. Top management is involved at key points to ensure alignment
with strategic direction.
Reported Result
The process enables the company to develop and implement training that is linked
to its strategic business objectives and delivers measurable results.




                                                                                                17




                            Page 20                           GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                                                          Appendix I
                                                          Information Technology Training




                                                                       Aligning IT Training with Goals
                                                                                                               Case Study 2

Strategic Learning Plan Process

                                                                    Strategic Learning          Strategic Learning
          Business Results                                              Framework                      Plan
Business                             Gaps and                         Validate business          Learning Interventions A
priorities                           issues                           priorities                   Learning Interventions B
 • Build market                        • Development                                                  Learning Interventions C
   share                                 needs                        Understand business              • Expected business
 • Drive                               • Barriers to                  issues and objectives              results
   innovative                            achieving                                                     • Learning objectives
   technology                            goals                        Identify learning                • Business metrics
   development                                                        interventions                    • Measurement plan
                                                                                                       • Investment requirement
                                                                      Prioritize learning
                                                                      interventions




Source: Company-provided graphic, used with permission.



                                                                                                                                18




                                                          Page 21                             GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                                                          Appendix I
                                                          Information Technology Training




                                                                       Aligning IT Training with Goals
                                                                                                                           Case Study 2
Detailed Steps in Strategic Learning Framework
                                   Step 1                             Step 2                     Step 3                      Step 4
                           Validate Business                  Understand Business           Identify Learning         Prioritize Learning
                                Priorities                    Issues and Objectives           Interventions              Interventions


                    • Review business plans                  • Identify specific         • Brainstorm learning      • Review list of proposed
                    • Identify critical priorities             business issues and         intervention alternatives interventions
                      and cause and effect links               objectives                • Select high potential    • Apply prioritized
 Activities         • Identify key measures                  • Select critical issues to   interventions              process
                                                               be addressed by                                      • Validate with business
                    • Validate with unit/
                                                               learning                                               unit leadership
                      organization leadership
                                                             • Perform gap analysis
             • Strategy map highlighting                     • Critical business issues • Learning interventions   • Finalized strategic
               business priorities                           • Gaps potentially to be                                learning plan
Deliverables
             • Selected business                               addressed by learning                               • Measurement plan
               measures

                     • Corporate Learning                    • Corporate Learning       • Corporate Learning       • Corporate Learning
    Roles            • Executive Sponsor                     • Learning Contact         • Learning Contact         • Executive Sponsor
                     • Learning Contact                      • Subject Matter Experts   • Subject Matter Experts   • Subject Matter Experts
                     • Subject Matter Experts

                            Critical stakeholders involved at all stages
                       Involvement by executive sponsor in steps 1 and 4                           Plans are validated and revalidated
                       helps ensure alignment with strategic goals                                 against strategic objectives
Source: Company-provided graphic, used with permission.


                                                                                                                                                19




                                                          Page 22                                       GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                            Appendix I
                            Information Technology Training




Identifying and Assessing IT Training Needs
A company’s skill needs may change because of new initiatives, new technology,
market forces, workforce attrition, or mergers and acquisitions, creating a need for
training. Companies should assess employees’ competencies and identify gaps
between skills that employees need and those they have. Gathering information
from various levels of the company allows managers to better assess training
needs. In addition, industry experts and practitioners are beginning to recognize
that IT training should focus on broader career development needs as well as skill-
specific training needs.
We found that, rather than simply fulfilling training requests, nearly all (10) of the
companies are performing practices to more effectively identify and assess training
needs. Companies are also beginning to address long-term career development
issues.




                                                                                                20




                            Page 23                           GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                                    Appendix I
                                    Information Technology Training




                                              Identifying and Assessing Needs

Practices
   • Identify and document the competencies/skills required for each job
     description
   • Maintain a current inventory of skills
   • Address overall career development issues as well as skill-specific training
     issues
   • Perform a gap analysis to determine where training is needed
   • Use self-directed tools, such as individual development plans, to give
     employees responsibility in assessing their development needs
   • Use a single portal 3 to give staff and managers access to training and career
     development information



3 A site featuring a suite of commonly used services, serving as a starting point and frequent gateway to the

Web (Web portal).

                                                                                                              21




                                    Page 24                                 GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                            Appendix I
                            Information Technology Training




                                      Identifying and Assessing Needs
                                                                               Case Study 3

Senior management input, “technology councils,” and individual
development plans are used to identify and assess workforce needs.

 Practices Illustrated
  • Identify and document skills
  • Use self-directed tools

Background
This multinational technology leader with a technically diverse workforce places a
high value on learning. The company has engineering and information technology
professionals in manufacturing and service positions worldwide with a very diverse
set of knowledge requirements.
Challenge
To identify the training that satisfies the needs of this technically diverse and
geographically dispersed workforce and prioritize the courses in greatest demand.



                                                                                                22




                            Page 25                           GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                               Appendix I
                               Information Technology Training




                                         Identifying and Assessing Needs
                                                                                   Case Study 3

Solution
The company’s training organization uses the following resources to effectively identify and
assess training gaps and needs (also see slide on next page):
  • Senior management identifies corporatewide topics such as quality management that
    require training support.
  • “Technology councils” representing technical disciplines throughout the company
    identify and assess training curricula for different IT and engineering jobs.
  • Individual development plans (IDPs) are self-directed tools completed by each
    employee and supervisor to identify needed training. The IDP information is compiled by
    the training organization through the use of a learning management system to identify,
    prioritize, and schedule training companywide.
Reported Results
The company’s ability to identify and prioritize training needs is enhanced because it is based
on input from management, subject-matter experts, and individuals.
Skills needed for each job position are more comprehensively defined based on input from
technical experts through the organization.
Individual development plans allow employees to better identify and manage their own
training needs and establish commitment from both employees and managers to fulfill those
needs.
                                                                                                    23




                               Page 26                            GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                                           Appendix I
                                           Information Technology Training




                                                     Identifying and Assessing Needs
                                                                                              Case Study 3

Sources Used to Identify and Assess IT Training Needs




Source: GAO.
Note: Analysis of company-provided data.

                                                                                                               24




                                           Page 27                           GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                           Appendix I
                           Information Technology Training




                                     Identifying and Assessing Needs
                                                                              Case Study 4

IT learning tracks help employees assess their development needs.

Practices Illustrated
 • Identify and document skills
 • Use self-directed tools
 • Use a single portal

Background
This technology company is using the Internet to transform how it conducts
business. The company has thousands of technical specialists located all over the
world, who need to stay technically and professionally current on whole categories
of technology and new Internet-based products and services.
Challenge
To provide readily accessible career and functional training information to a diverse
and global technical workforce that can use this information to identify and assess
their technical training and development needs.


                                                                                               25




                           Page 28                           GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
                               Appendix I
                               Information Technology Training




                                         Identifying and Assessing Needs
                                                                                    Case Study 4

Solution
To establish IT learning tracks, the company took the following steps:
  • Developed a Web-based single point of entry system that allows employees located
    worldwide to access technical training and career development information.
  • Established an advisory council that defined the required skills for each technical
    position. The council is made up of subject matter experts and representatives from the
    technical management and training groups.
  • Created curricula on line for specific technical positions. The slide on the next page is an
    example of a screen from the company’s training portal. It shows the curriculum for IT
    Engineer–Java. Each curriculum is divided into core courses, elective courses, and
    informal learning sources.
  • Designed comprehensive guidance to help employees manage their career paths and
    enhance their professional development.
Reported Results
Workers’ ready access to development information allows them to control their own
development and career paths.
Employee loyalty is enhanced by the availability of opportunities for employees to direct their
own learning pace and development.

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                                                                    Identifying and Assessing Needs
                                                                                                             Case Study 4




 Position

  Core                                                                                                          Informal
  company                                                                                                       learning
  courses                                                                                                       sources


 Courses
 related to
 job
 function
 Includes
 certifi-
 cations




Source: Company-provided graphic, used with permission.


                                                                                                                              27




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                                            Identifying and Assessing Needs
                                                                                     Case Study 5

IT Professional Program guides career development.
Practice Illustrated
 • Address overall career development issues as well as skill-
   specific training issues



Background
The IT department of a manufacturing company found that it needed well-rounded
IT staff with the skills that allowed them to be effective in the business environment,
not just in technical areas.
Challenge
To develop balanced, well-rounded IT professionals rather than narrowly focused
technicians.




                                                                                                      28




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                                      Identifying and Assessing Needs
                                                                               Case Study 5

Solution
The company developed the “IT Professional Program,” which creates a career
ladder to a technical position at the senior executive level. The program is used to
guide and evaluate the career development of IT professionals. Competencies are
identified in six categories, only one of which is technical:
  • Leadership (e.g., facilitation capabilities, persuasiveness, developing others)
  • Innovation (e.g., strategic thinking, applying new skills)
  • Effectiveness (e.g., teamwork, customer consciousness, prudent risk taking)
  • Communications (e.g., written and personal communications, negotiation)
  • Business processes (e.g., corporate-specific processes, IT division processes)
  • Technical and business domain (e.g., job-specific technical skills)
Employees advance based on their proficiency in the competencies. Because the
objective is to develop balanced, well-rounded staff proficient in nontechnical and
technical skills, all six evaluation categories are weighted equally. Salary
determination is based on the lowest-scoring category.


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                                      Identifying and Assessing Needs
                                                                               Case Study 5

Solution (cont’d)
The company provides formal training through a corporate university, on-line
courses, and courses at local colleges, but it also uses on-the-job training since
company staff believe that formal training provides only a small part of what an
employee needs to know to perform effectively.
Reported Result
The IT Professional Program has helped develop well-rounded IT staff who
understand the business and can work well with other staff and business units.
Other benefits are improved retention and morale, because career ladder steps are
well defined, employees understand what they need to do to get promoted, and
there is a full career ladder up to a senior level.




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Allocating IT Training Resources
As in any other business area, training must compete for corporate resources. It is
important that companies prioritize and manage resources to ensure that training
projects are effectively identified and implemented.
The leading companies we visited use various approaches to deciding how to
allocate training resources. Four of these companies are establishing structured
investment processes to select and manage training projects. Four others target
large amounts of training resources at a fairly small group of promising applicants.




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                                    Allocating IT Training Resources

Practices
 • Ensure that an investment process is in place to select and manage training
   projects
 • Consider the benefits and costs associated with various training design and
   delivery methods—e.g., Internet-based as opposed to classroom training
 • Identify people who have high potential and provide them specialized training
   opportunities
 • Ensure that resources are allocated for management training—e.g., leadership
   and project management




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                                            Allocating IT Training Resources
                                                                                         Case Study 6

An integrated investment management process is used to select and
manage training projects.
 Practices Illustrated
    • Ensure that an investment process is in place
    • Consider the benefits and costs associated with various training design and delivery methods
Background
During the mid-1990s, because funding for training at this large technology company was
curtailed, the company reassessed its training processes. Funding and investment decisions
for training were done by various business groups on an ad hoc basis. Little thought was
given to how new training initiatives impacted the company’s strategic goals. Further, few
processes were in place to ensure that the selection and implementation of the most strategic
training projects were being managed properly.
Challenge
To institute an integrated training investment management process that involves both the
business unit and corporate levels.
Solution
Executive stakeholders from the major business groups reallocated 10% of their training
budgets to a companywide strategic training portfolio.
Key organizational decisionmakers became involved in the investment management process.
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                                         Allocating IT Training Resources
                                                                                    Case Study 6

Solution (cont’d)
The company instituted an investment management process (see next slide) for all major
training development projects that
  • clearly defines responsibilities and authority for each stakeholder;
  • includes a ranking process using weighted criteria to compare and rank projects as part
    of investment reviews (these criteria include anticipated demand for the investment from
    internal sources; potential for increased revenue; risk of unfavorable consequences if
    investment is not made; availability of resources to support the project; and business
    value or strategic fit); and
  • requires that all training projects are monitored from initial design through
    implementation.
Reported Results
Investment decisionmaking at the corporate level (through an Executive Review Board and
Integrated Portfolio Management Teams) is based on how training investments support
corporate business goals and results.
Project development teams can better manage risks and resources associated with each
training initiative.



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                                                     Allocating IT Training Resources
                                                                                              Case Study 6




Source: GAO.
Note: Analysis of company-provided data.

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                                    Allocating IT Training Resources
                                                                             Case Study 7

A training program was established to target carefully screened
applicants.

 Practice Illustrated
 • Provide specialized training for people with high potential

Background
This major finance company is highly dependent on technology in conducting its
business, which includes selling software products to financial institutions and
developing unique systems. It has historically found it difficult to hire enough
qualified technical employees, especially during the tight job market of the 1990s,
and it needed a method of addressing skills shortages.
Challenge
To institute a program that identifies promising nontechnical candidates and
rapidly trains them to become proficient in technical areas.


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                                      Allocating IT Training Resources
                                                                               Case Study 7

Solution
To fill staff shortages or anticipated staff shortages in technology positions, the
company established the Business Technologist Program. This intensive 3-year
training program is divided into individual programs that focus on particular target
audiences or job positions. For example, one program focuses on carefully
selected nontechnical new hires with prior business experience.
A large component of the program cost is the salaries. Participants are paid during
18 weeks of training before they are placed in productive jobs. Training facility
costs—such as workstations and networks—can also be high. The company
selects applicants very carefully before investing in their training and development,
and protects its investment by careful monitoring.
During the classroom training, recruits are monitored by frequent testing and
helped if they seem to be falling behind. After being placed in jobs, they are
assigned mentors, and performance is evaluated at half-year intervals instead of
annually as with other staff.



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                                     Allocating IT Training Resources
                                                                              Case Study 7

Solution (cont’d)
The company keeps costs down by paying recruits approximately 50 percent of the
market rate for a seasoned IT professional during their training period. This is
usually a pay reduction for people entering the program. Salaries can be increased
after each semi-annual performance review and rise to market levels during the 3
years of the program.
Reported Results
The company stated that the program is effective because of the number and
quality of its graduates—more than 500 people over the course of the program. It
has been able to quickly train staff to fill technical positions, and retention of
program participants has been better than average. An additional benefit has been
increased diversity in the workforce.




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                                        Allocating IT Training Resources
                                                                                  Case Study 8

Company targets resources to develop a cadre of skilled project managers.

 Practices Illustrated
 • Identify people who have high potential and provide them with specialized training
 • Ensure that resources are allocated for management training—e.g., leadership
   and project management

Background
This large financial services company had a number of “painful costly project
experiences caused by a lack of project management knowledge and experience.”
Project managers from IT and from the various lines of business tended to focus
more on their respective needs rather than the overall needs of the organization. The
company lacked an internal network of skilled, qualified project managers.
Challenge
To develop a cadre/network of information technology managers (and business
managers) with the proper project management skills, internal professional contacts,
and management background to deliver projects within cost and on schedule.

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                                    Allocating IT Training Resources
                                                                             Case Study 8

Solution
The company’s IT training group designed a comprehensive project management
development program (PMDP) for IT managers and others in leadership roles. The
program includes two separate 4-month training programs: PMDP Level 1 for new
project managers and PMDP Level 2 for experienced project managers. The
company took the following steps to support the success of training:
  • obtained a senior executive sponsor;
  • assembled an internal consulting team possessing a broad view of the
    company’s projects, and having management and training experience;
  • identified the causes for project failures within the company and used the
    information to help develop the program;
  • created the program around six broad categories of required skills (project
    planning, project control and management, managing the team, managing the
    environment, risk management, and the company’s project life cycle);



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                                      Allocating IT Training Resources
                                                                               Case Study 8

Solution (cont’d)
  • identified top performers and ensured an optimal mix of participants that broadly
    represented the company (business and IT managers);
  • created a program that allowed trainees to network and be mentored; and
  • developed evaluation tools to assess the PMDP.
Reported Result
The program reduced the number of project difficulties caused by inadequate project
management knowledge and skills.
It expanded the internal network of skilled, qualified IT and business project
managers who provide a ready source of expertise.
It also facilitated the exchange of approaches and practices that help ensure
successful project management.




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Designing and Delivering IT Training
Once training needs are identified and resources allocated, it is important that the
training design and delivery process ensures that learning occurs during the
training and also ensures that the employee applies the training on the job.
The majority of the companies we studied said that they are still using traditional
instructor-led training. However, they are taking advantage of more flexible design
and delivery methods made possible by technology to deliver training to the user’s
desktop and to make training more convenient.




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                                Designing and Delivering Training

Practices
 • Provide IT trainees with the flexibility to choose among different IT training
   delivery methods
 • Ensure that on-the-job training is planned and monitored as part of the training
   process
 • Consider combining different teaching methods (e.g., Web-based and
   instructor-led) within the same course
 • Provide just-in-time training
 • Consider outsourcing training solutions—e.g., university partnerships and
   external IT training and content providers
 • Build courses using reusable components




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                                      Designing and Delivering Training
                                                                                      Case Study 9

An e-learning solution offers flexibility in learning to a worldwide workforce.

 Practices Illustrated
  • Provide flexibility to choose among different delivery methods
  • Consider combining different teaching methods
  • Provide just-in-time training
  • Build courses using reusable components


Background
This technology company believes that e-learning is a revolutionary way to
empower a workforce with the skills and knowledge it needs. The company
implemented e-learning solutions internally so it can gain advantages and also act
as an e-learning model for its customers.
Challenge
To create an environment where learning resources and information are clearly
integrated into everyday job functions and readily accessible to employees
worldwide.

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                                    Designing and Delivering Training
                                                                                    Case Study 9
Solution
To implement e-learning solutions, the company took the following steps:
  • Established e-learning portals on the company’s network that are integrated with its e-
    business strategy. (These portals are illustrated on the following page.)
  • Implemented a central e-learning system (see graphic on next slide), accessible from the
    portals, that provides employees with Web-based learning solutions, including video-on-
    demand (VOD)—which captures expert instructors on video—computer-based training,
    an electronic library, virtual labs, and net meetings. These delivery methods may be
    combined in a single training course.
  • Invested in infrastructure that supports the company’s content delivery (VOD requires
    high bandwidth).
  • Invested in a state-of-the-art video studio for its VOD learning solutions.
  • Established a reusable object strategy that enables the training workforce to create and
    deliver modular, reusable learning “chunks” for different learning experiences.
Reported Results
The company increased employee productivity and communications and decreased costs.


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                                                               Designing and Delivering Training
                                                                                                             Case Study 9


                                                                                               E-Learning/Internet
                                                                                             Learning Environment




Source: Company-provided graphic, used with permission.



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                                    Designing and Delivering Training
                                                                                Case Study 10

Reusable learning component strategy offers flexible approach to improve
course design/delivery productivity and cost savings.
 Practices Illustrated
  • Provide just-in-time training
  • Build courses using reusable components


Background
Career certification courses at this technology company were previously delivered
almost exclusively in an instructor-led format. In 2000, to fulfill its goal of becoming
a leader in e-learning, the company devised a strategy to develop reusable
components for its course offerings. These components would allow courses to be
packaged and delivered in various ways, including traditional classroom training,
live virtual training, or self-paced e-learning.
Challenge
To move the company’s training courses from large inflexible courses to
searchable database-driven objects—reusable chunks of information—that could
be reused and modified independent of their delivery method.
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                                      Designing and Delivering Training
                                                                                        Case Study 10

Solution
A strategy was developed that included the following tasks:
  • Define standards and guidelines for designing and
    developing reusable learning components.                                 Curriculum

  • Establish a hierarchical curriculum structure, as at
                                                                                 Unit
    right.
  • Create reusable learning objects (“lessons”) by                            Module
    combining individual reusable information objects.                                        (Reusable
                                                                               Lesson         learning
  • Create reusable information objects (“topics” or                                          object)
    “pages”) by combining content items, practice items,                        Topic         (Reusable
                                                                                              information
    and assessment items.                                                                     object)

The implementation strategy began with a limited number Source:    GAO.
                                                            Note: Analysis of company-provided data.
of certification courses to give developers time to embrace
the new approach. The company now has 20,000 reusable
learning objects that can be reused for course development.

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                                Designing and Delivering Training
                                                                            Case Study 10

Reported Results
Course development time was significantly reduced—i.e., selected courses were
developed in half the time/budget because learning objects were reused.
The company achieved a positive return on its investment.
The approach enabled all field staff to access on-demand, personalized training, in
the media of their choice.
Users have the ability to offer an assessment of the objects people need to achieve
the desired performance.




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Evaluating/Demonstrating the Value of IT
Training
Companies can determine whether training has achieved its intended business
impact by integrating training measurements into their strategy and operations.
Increasingly, stakeholders who fund training are interested in how training
investments contribute to the company’s business results.
Companies we visited recognize the importance of effectively evaluating the impact
of training on business goals. All the companies are going beyond simply obtaining
participant reactions. For example, some use tests or certifications to validate that
the content was understood; others are deploying evaluation processes that
measure business results.




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                                     Evaluating/Demonstrating Value

Practices
 • Collect information on how job performance is affected by training
 • Validate IT content learning by testing and certification of specific skills—e.g.,
   Java or C++
 • Assess evaluation results in terms of business impact




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                                           Evaluating/Demonstrating Value
                                                                                  Case Study 11

An automated evaluation process measures and reports training results.
 Practices Illustrated
    • Collect information on how job performance is affected
    • Validate content learning by testing and certification


Background
This large financial services firm needed to improve the communication between
its IT training organization, called Learning Systems, and its IT organization.
Challenge
To demonstrate the value of the training process to IT organization managers and
facilitate their involvement in the training process.
Solutions
An automated evaluation process has been implemented to demonstrate the value
of training through participant evaluations, automated surveys of how well training
is applied on the job, and to some extent, Web-based testing and certifications.

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                                      Evaluating/Demonstrating Value
                                                                             Case Study 11
Solutions (cont’d)
Specifically, the automated evaluation process is used for the following:
  • Obtaining participant reaction:
     • The Learning Systems computer system automatically generates an
       evaluation form that participants must complete before leaving class.
     • The data are compiled and analyzed by a proprietary database analysis tool
       and used to determine changes in instructors, course design, and other
       training factors.
  • Assessing content learning:
     • Some courses use Web-based testing to demonstrate proficiency.
     • Many related career certifications also require testing to demonstrate
       proficiency.
  • Determining how training is applied on the job:
     • Each month, the training organization selects courses for further assessment.
     • Participants receive an electronic survey about 1 month after course
       completion, in which they indicate how they applied the training on the job.
       The participant’s manager receives a similar survey about the participant.
     • The information is then used to refine training activities.
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                                      Evaluating/Demonstrating Value
                                                                             Case Study 11

Solutions (cont’d)
The Learning Systems director meets with IT organization business managers
each month to discuss how learning strategies can best help the IT organization
achieve its business objectives. These discussions include budget, hours of
training delivered, reactions to training, and types of delivery methods.
Reported Results
Participant evaluations, testing, and post-training feedback help assess the value of
training.
Collecting evaluation data after the employee has returned to the work environment
helps determine if training was applied on the job.
The monthly discussions help improve communication between the IT organization
and Learning Systems.




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                                     Evaluating/Demonstrating Value
                                                                            Case Study 12

Certifications are used to measure learned skills.

Practice Illustrated
  • Validate content learning by testing and certification

Background
This telecom company created a new group to be responsible for the corporate
Web site and for sites used by customers to communicate with the company. The
vice president in charge worked with the chief technologist to develop a list of
skills, matching needed skills to job categories. Once the group was up and
running, the skills list was refined by consultations with managers and staff.
Challenge
To measure progress in developing the skills needed to provide new and improved
Web services to clients.




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                                      Evaluating/Demonstrating Value
                                                                             Case Study 12

Solution
The company contracted for Web-based certification testing on the required skills,
such as Java programming. Employees were required to pass all the certifications
needed for their jobs, but were allowed to fail and retake the certification tests as
many times as needed without penalties. Incentives and rewards, such as public
recognition or lunch with the senior vice president, were offered to motivate staff.
Training relevant to the certifications was provided by about 400 on-line courses,
as well as through books recommended by the certification vendor and by informal,
on-the-job training.
The senior vice president in charge of the group tracked the group’s progress on
certifications against performance metrics, including time to complete projects and
number of pages of program code rejected by quality control. Improvements in the
code reject rate were seen after employees passed certification tests.




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                                     Evaluating/Demonstrating Value
                                                                            Case Study 12

Reported Results
By linking training and certification, the company could directly measure employee
content learning and also validate training courses.
By monitoring individuals’ performance using the metric of pages of code rejected,
the company was able to demonstrate improved job performance correlated with
employees’ becoming certified.
The certification process and how it was administered led to increased employee
motivation to take training and improved morale, since employees valued the
certifications.




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                           Issues Critical to Effective IT Training

The case studies illustrate that practices identified and performed by leading private
sector companies can result in more effective training management. However,
based on company and expert input, we noted several crosscutting issues that
should be considered in implementing effective IT training practices. These issues
include
 • Responding to the rapid pace of technological and social change. Rapid
   changes in technology (e.g., the growth of e-learning) affect how training is
   delivered as well as what competencies are needed (e.g., the growing need for
   information security skills). Changes in the IT workforce, such as increased
   diversity, may require a different mix of skills.
 • Demonstrating return on investment in IT training. Although there is pressure
   to show return on investment (ROI) from training, it is difficult and costly to
   demonstrate ROI. Only two companies reported that they were actually
   calculating ROI on IT training.
 • Managing funding constraints during an economic downturn. The economic
   climate and its impact on training expenditures may affect the overall level of
   training delivered by organizations or the mix of delivery methods—such as
   outsourcing or e-learning.
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                       Issues Critical to Effective IT Training

• Obtaining visibility for training at the highest levels of the organization.
  Several of our companies have existing or emerging processes that include
  executive management involvement. This can enhance an organization’s
  ability to incorporate training in its planning, and can improve a training
  organization’s ability to undertake new initiatives.




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                                                                            A Final Note

     GAO’s review of private sector practices indicates that training is not simply a
     support function, but a strategic element in achieving corporate objectives.
     Traditional training activities are being reinvented to focus on implementing a
     comprehensive learning strategy and demonstrating business impact. Companies
     are adopting new ideas about training, but many initiatives are in their early stages,
     and private sector officials expressed interest in learning about innovative practices
     emerging from the public sector.




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(310444)                         Page 63                           GAO-03-390 Information Technology Training
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