A. Definition of Federal individual
B. Objectives of agency individual learning account pilots.
C. Eligibility for individual learning accounts.
D. Some suggestions and examples for individual learning account pilots.
E. Issues that need resolution.
President Clinton's January 12, 1999, Executive Order No. 13111, "Using Technology to Improve Training Opportunities for Federal Government Employees," established the Presidential Task Force on Federal Learning Technology, a task force to explore how Federal training programs, initiatives, and policies can better support lifelong learning through the use of learning technology. The Task Force consists of heads of Federal departments and agencies and their representatives.
The Executive Order requires the Task Force to complete several tasks within specific time frames. These tasks included a requirement to
"Develop options and recommendations for establishing a Federal Individual Training Account for each Federal worker for training relevant to his or her Federal employment. To the extent permitted by law, such accounts may be established with the funds allocated to the agency for employee training. Approval for training would be within the discretion of the individual employee's manager. Options and recommendations shall be reported no later than six (6) months from the date of this order."
To meet this charge, the Task Force created a workgroup, which researched current ILA use in the public, and private sectors, explored issues related to implementing ILAs in the Federal Government, and prepared recommendations that the Task Force forwarded to the President on July 12, 1999.
The Task Force found that Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs) are a
relatively new concept, and there are not many examples of programs
with a long track record. The programs reviewed by the Task Force were
all in early implementation stages, in the private and public sectors.
In these programs, both the employee and the employer, and sometimes
the state, contribute money to a bank or company account in the employee's
name, which the employee may use for education and training. Before
dispersing funds from an account, a bank or a company official makes
sure that the money will be used for its intended purpose. Other characteristics
of the programs studied included:
These ILAs differ from traditional tuition assistance and reimbursement programs in which the employer pays, or reimburses an employee, for the expenses of education, in whole or in part. In an ILA program, the employee uses the account as he or she wishes for learning and education, within the parameters for which the account is established.
The Task Force also found that some Federal agencies already have ILA-like arrangements with employees. For example, in some agencies, a specific amount of money is set aside for training each individual employee. The funds pay, or reimburse the employee, in whole or in part, for training and education related to his or her official duties. The employee may, or may not, contribute personal time and money to this training.
The Task Force determined that ILAs might be a positive addition to an agency's toolbox of approaches to meet employee training needs and to support lifelong learning. It felt Federal agencies should experiment with using ILAs and recommended that agencies conduct pilots.
The Task Force also recommended that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) manage the ILA pilot initiative, develop guidelines for implementation, analyze results of agency pilots and publish a report on lessons learned.
While all the ILA programs reviewed by the Task Force are funded in terms of dollars, the group concluded that limiting the definition of ILAs to dollar accounts would be too restrictive for Federal pilots. The Task Force agreed that for the Federal pilots, an ILA is a base amount of resources expressed in terms of dollars or hours or both that are set aside for an individual employee to use for his or her learning and development. Accounts may be used to develop knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly relate to the employee's official duties. ILAs are not limited to programs delivered by learning technology.
An ILA is a strategy or tool that complements current agency training activities. The objectives of agency ILA pilots include, but are not limited to:
With the exception of Schedule C appointees and uniform personnel in the U.S. Department of Defense, an agency may establish ILA pilots that include any executive branch Federal employee, including career, career conditional, part time, temporary, or excepted service employee in professional, technical, clerical, administrative, or management positions.
Pilots may be instituted to meet general or specific agency needs. For example,
Below are some possible examples of Federal ILAs. These examples are meant for illustrative purposes only.
As agencies identify possible pilots, they should consider issues such as equity and union involvement in pilot development and implementation. They also need to track and be able to report to OPM any issues associated with the administration and funding of the pilots.
Agency pilot plans should be submitted to OPM in order for OPM to track pilot numbers and types and prepare for assessment of this Governmentwide initiative. Agencies wishing to experiment with ILAs should submit their plans by January 14, 2000. Designs for agency pilots should include, but are not limited to:
Send plans of pilot projects to Director, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Room 5305, 1900 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20415.
Agency pilot programs should begin no later than March 15, 2000.
However, in some cases, agencies may wish to initiate pilots after March 15. Additional pilots are encouraged, those agencies should submit plans as indicated above and submit preliminary evaluation results no later than six months after the launch date.
Preliminary evaluations of agency pilots are due to OPM by September 30, 2000. Evaluations should include:
Agencies may provide employees any training or education that improves their performance or the performance of the organization and assists in achieving the agency's mission and performance goals. [5 U.S.C. §4101]
An agency may select and assign an employee to academic degree training and provide employees effective education and training in compliance with 5 U.S.C. 4107. Merit systems principles apply to selecting candidates for academic degree training. (5 U.S.C. §4107; Homeland Security Act 2000 section 1331; Public Law 107-296 section 1331 Academic Training)
Agencies may share the costs of training and education with employees and may reimburse employees for all or part of the costs of successfully completed training and education. [5 U.S.C. §4109]
Agencies may procure and pay for training or education from the source that best meets their needs with no distinction made between Government and non-Government sources. [5 U.S.C. §4109]
Agencies can determine when continued service agreements are necessary to protect the Government's investment and may apply these agreements to Government or to non-Government training. [5 U.S.C. §4108]
Tuition and matriculation fees, including fees for online courses.
Library and laboratory services, including fees for online services and databases.
Purchase or rental of books, materials, and supplies, including computers, software, CD ROMS and electronic learning material, including adaptive equipment for persons with disabilities.
Services or facilities directly related to training employees, including readers for the blind, tutoring, counseling directly related to enrollment in learning activities, and examinations to determine level of proficiency and level of training needed.
Travel and expenses, including parking fees and costs for attending training that takes place outside the employee's duty station.
Membership fees if the fee is a necessary cost directly related to he training itself or if payment of the fee is a condition precedent to admission to training.