Coordinate State Training in a Central Personnel Office

To help eliminate duplication in employee training and expand services with existing resources, the Legislature should direct the General Services Commission (GSC), through a new personnel office, to coordinate state training functions.


Background
The State Employee Training Act of 1969 made funds available to establish training and educational programs to better prepare state employees for technological, legal and social changes in the work environment. 1

Employee training in Texas agencies is decentralized. Each agency is responsible for providing technical and non-technical instruction to its own employees. At last count, 1,037 full-time equivalents (FTEs) were employed in training and personnel services. 2 For fiscal 1992, total funds allocated for education and training purposes totaled $23,459,112. 3

The current, fragmented structure of human resource training results in numerous examples of waste and inefficiently used resources. A Texas Performance Review (TPR) survey of 25 large and medium-sized agencies found similar or identical training programs were offered by several agencies; many of them were developed independently. 4 Table 1 provides further results of that survey. For instance, 80 percent of the agencies surveyed offered sexual harassment training.

Table 1 Duplication of Training Courses Offered by 25 Large and Medium-Sized Agencies

Percent of
Courses Offered Agencies Surveyed

EEO Training 76%
Sexual Harassment 80
ADA Training * 68
EAP Program + 52
Time Management 64
Phone Training 60
Leadership Skills 60
Presentation Skills 56
Writing Skills 60
Computer Skills 80
Cultural Diversity 52

* Programs pertaining to the American Disabilities Act.
+ Employee Assistance Programs
Source: Comptroller of Public Accounts, Texas Performance Review, Survey, December 1992.

Most of these courses are generic training courses, which could be offered to employees from any agen cy. Interviews with training personnel confirm that only a small percentage (10-25 percent) of human resource training is specific to the individual agency s operations. 5 While larger agencies have duplicate training programs, smaller agencies and boards have little or no training available. These agencies sometimes find it necessary to contract with private vendors, at substantially higher rates, to provide training.

Program design is a major cost component of training. Depending on the course topic, eight to 40 hours of preparation are required for every hour of instruction. 6 Typically, courses run from a few hours to two weeks long. Since course development is expensive and time consuming, some agencies are recognizing the need to coordinate and share training resources. Interviews with the staff of the Governor s Management Development Center revealed that they receive frequent requests to supply instructional background to agency trainers who have been asked to develop courses in a rush. 7

In another example, the Texas Water Development Board recently requested that the Comptroller of Public Accounts share its training model for its Renaissance project, noting that the people of the state will benefit from our sharing of resources and our refusal to enter into duplicate processes that charge the taxpayer twice. 8 There is also an informal professional group called the Human Resource Development Network that meets monthly to share information on current training topics.

The Department of Information Resources (DIR) offers instruction in software applications. Instruction is offered by contractor at reduced rates. The training facility is currently at capacity with classes offered nine out of 10 working days. Besides generic software training for state employees, there is a need for more advanced technical training. According to recent reports from state agencies and universities, about 6,800 staff are employed in information resource functions. 9 Continued expansion of the cooperative training program will improve the cost effective delivery of skills development for the state s technical staff. DIR reports that $64,071 was recently saved by coordinating just 30 computer classes for 631 attenders.

Such examples represent the efforts agencies and training personnel are making to share and coordinate training resources. These efforts, however, are informal and are conducted on an ad hoc basis. Without the benefit of a central resource from which to dr aw information quickly, agencies generally are left to the time-intensive process of developing training materials, coordinating course information and inventorying training activity independently.

There are a few training programs specifically designed to be used by all state agencies. These include computer courses offered by DIR, and management courses offered at the Governor s Management Development Center. The Governor s Center has a waiting list approximately a year long, forcing many agencies to develop their own in-house management programs to provide timely training.

Considerable effort is spent locating training facilities. Insufficient facilities, particularly in the Austin area, have forced many trainers to rent expensive space in hotels and the convention center. The lack of coordination in reserving facilities is not only time consuming, but prevents the state from obtaining discounts for multiple bookings.

Findings from the Hudson Institute s Workforce 2000 report shows that the composition of the American labor force will change dramatically a s the labor force growth rate declines and the skill requirements for occupations increase. Compared to the private sector, Texas under-invests in employee training. It is estimated that the private sector invests 2 percent of employee salaries in personne l training. Texas state government invests approximately one-half of 1 percent. 10 A study by Motorola University evaluating the return on training investment found that for every dollar spent on quality training, $33 were realized in increased productivity. 11 Other studies show that talent development, through training, is a key factor to reducing employee turnover. 12

In addition to increasing productivity and decreasing turnover, it is essential that state employees have adequate access to training in labor laws, such as Equal Employment Opportunities Act (EEO), American Disabilities Act (ADA) and Fair Labor Standards Act. Lack of training in these areas puts the state at serious legal risk. For 1990, 1991 and 1992, Texas paid out $4,731,000 in personnel c laims. Many of these claims could have been prevented by properly training employees in procedures required by the labor legislation.

For training to be effective, instructors must be properly trained, course material must be reinforced and curriculum must be re-evaluated to ensure it is meeting agencies and employees needs. In Texas, this reinforcement and evaluation process is inadequate. Most training evaluations focus on whether or not the participant liked or enjoyed the training rather than whether the participant learned new applicable skills and knowledge.

A survey conducted by the Council of State Governments found that 86 percent of all states have some centralized training programs. 13 Many states, including Louisiana, Georgia, and Michigan, centralize most training functions, leaving individual agencies to conduct only agency-specific training. Adding to this list, New Jersey recently consolidated over 40 different training operations into a single, state-wide staff development and training institute. Centralizing training functions saved New Jersey an estimated $5 million in the first year. 14 Florida has recently proposed to increase employee training to reduce personnel claims against the state. The state estimates that 50 percent of these claims could be prevented by adequately training employees. 15


Recommendations
A. To help eliminate duplicate employee training functions and expand services with existing resources, the Legislature should require the General Services Commission s (GSC ) central personnel office (proposed elsewhere in this report) to coordinate the state s training functions.

Another recommendation within this report would establish a central personnel office within GSC. This function should be headed by a professional level manager within the new central personnel office. The manager should evaluate staffing needs in other age ncies to eliminate duplication of training effort in such areas as curricula design and legal information. This effort should be staffed by trai ners on loan from other agencies. In exchange for lending trainers, agencies will receive credit towards services offered by this office. Their trainer will also gain experience and certification in innovative training programs which could save the lending agency money. For instance, for lending a trainer to this office, an agency could request that the trainer become experienced in instructing satellite-based training that can then be taught in their agency. The feasibility of creating training internships with colleges and universities should also be explored.

When agencies lend trainers to the office for training experience, agencies should guarantee trainers that their position will be available for them when they have completed the program. Trainers should assure the agency that they will provide training to their employees for a pre-determined period of time. GSC and the agency lending the trainer should determine the duration of the loan.

Like the Governor s Management Development Center, all serv ices should be provided for a fee. With the exception of start-up capital, fees will provide revenue for operations. The new training office should coordinate training activities with the Governor s Center, which would not be affected by this recommendation.

Because training capabilities vary between agencies, this office should develop an incentive system for agencies to participate in the coordination effort. One possible incentive system would allow agencies to earn credit toward services for lending instructors, contributing facilities or allowing outside agencies to participate in their training programs.

B. The central training office should seek input from the Human Resource Development Network and other training professionals to identify and address current and future training issues affecting all state employees.

Issues to be addressed should include, but not be limited to: uniform training policies, needs evaluation and trainer quality assessment. The training office should also coordinate with any planning efforts of GSC s central personnel office to address training needs from a larger human resource perspective.

C. The central training office should design a uniform training curricula for issues that affect all agencies, such as the American Disabilities Act and other civil rights legislation requirements. A uniform curricula will ensure accurate, consistent train ing and eliminate duplication in course development. Agencies should be required to contact the training office to determine the availability of curricula to meet their agencies needs.

Currently, each trainer is responsible for developing training scripts and program materials. Developing a uniform curricula, available to all agencies, would allow trainers to respond quickly to an agency s demand for training. For instance, if an agency required training on appropriate interview conduct, a trainer would simply have to request the curriculum from the training office. The curriculum would contain current legal information on i nterviewing so that trainers would not need to conduct further research. The office also would offer quality training materials. Training should not duplicate any training already offered by the Texas Commission on Human Rights.

D. The central training office should establish automated resource directories, data banks, scheduling systems, employee training records and reports to maintain accurate data on training costs and effectiveness.

E. The office should inventory and coordinate existing and potential training facilities and programs. Agencies should be required to participate in existing programs rather than developing and offering courses in-house whenever the central courses can reasonably meet the agency s need.

Such coordination would enable the location of training facilities easier, faster and less expensively. It would also ensure that existing training programs achieved full capacity.

F. The office should be directed to perform the following duties within available resources:
design course curricula;
provide a subscription clearinghouse of training research and information;
certify trainers in state-of-the-art training programs;
develop, administer and compile training evaluation, materials, or methodology, including pre- and post-testing, and follow-up evaluation;
provide or contract for program delivery for agencies requesting service on a fee-for-service basis;
provide training expertise and research on legal issues; and
coordinate procurement of training materials and services for volume discounts.

G. The office should be responsible for locating training facilities in areas closest to the participants to eliminate the expense of lodging and per diem.

H. Based on the office s inventory of agencies training capabilities, the office should be required to report to the 74th Legislature with recommendations for savings or reductions in training appropriations of other agencies.


Implications
The recommended change will improve the quality and effectiveness of state train ing programs by providing much-needed strategic planning and uniform curricula. These functions would ensure that every agency receive consistent, accurate training on issues such as civil rights laws, grievance and termination procedures, employee develop ment and work skills.

All agencies will benefit from participating in the central office training activities. Agencies would be able to tap into a database of course offerings, allowing staff from one agency to attend generic training classes from other a gencies, if space is available. The office would disseminate information regarding course offerings and coordinate course registration.

This change will not eliminate agencies trainers, although, over time, agencies may be able to reduce staff as centralized services become more available. The change will provide agency trainers with access to pre-developed curricula so that they may spen d more time teaching and less time preparing and researching course materials. Large agencies who lend trainers will b e investing in a quality instructor for their own training programs, while small agencies and boards will have equal access to training opportunities. By creating a centrally developed curricula, the state will eliminate duplication and realize savings by developing quality programs only once. Coordinating trainers, facilities and programs would also allow the state to take advantage of volume discounts for programs and materials to realize further savings.

The change will reduce the risk of lawsuits filed against the state by providing consistent training. 16 Inconsistencies, especially in EEO and ADA training, are potentially costly for the state. For fiscal 1992, conservative estimates of claims awarded by the state amounted to $159,250 for sexual harassment issues, $523,420 for wrongful termination procedur e and $530,064 for discrimination issues. 17 Offering comprehensive training in alternative dispute resolution such as mediation will also reduce the cost of litigation.

The change would reduce turnover costs by developing employee potential, improving job satisfaction and increasing productivity levels. The quality of training services available to all state employees will improve by designing curriculum that responds to agencies needs but is not agency biased.

A subscription clearinghouse would eliminate research duplication and provide all agencies access to timely information. Exchange of training techniques and ideas can also be facilitated by this recommendation.


Fiscal Impact
Centralized devel opment of employee training programs should result in significant cost savings by eliminating duplication. A survey of 25 large and medium-sized agencies was used to estimate the number of duplicate training courses developed by state agencies. Interviews with training experts indicate that an average eight hour training course costs $2,000 to design. 18 Assuming the average course is eight hours long, costs $2,000 to develop, and is revised each year, the state could realize an estimated cost savings of $718,000 per year or $3,590,000 over five years by eliminating duplicate training design.

Developing uniform personnel policies and procedures accompanied by consistent and up-to-date training could reduce exposure to liability. A conservative estimate of claims paid out for the state for personnel issues was $1,577,000 for 1992. 19 By providing training to all state agencies in labor issues, the problem of illegal and inappropriate conduct could be resolved before mediation or legal proceedings are needed.

For classified empl oyees, turnover rates were 14.6 percent and 13 percent for 1991 and 1992 respectively. Turnover costs the state an estimated $583.4 million in fiscal 1991 and $608.7 million in 1992. Savings that may result from reducing claims or employee turnover cannot be estimated, however. Additional gains would be made by increases in employee productivity. Since loaned staff would perform the training coordination function, no salary expense would be incurred. If a central personnel office is estab lished as recommended in another section of this report, its manager could oversee the training function.



Endnotes
1 Tex. Rev. Cit. Stat. Ann. art. 6252-11a (Vernons 1970).
2 Interview with Dick Robertson, Austin, Texas, May 14, 1991.
3 Comptroller of Public Accounts, Annual Cash Report: Revenue and Expenditures of State Funds for the Year Ending August 31, 1992 (Austin, Texas, 1992).
4 Telephone survey with selected list of Texas state agencies, November 1992.
5 Interview with human resource trainers from a selected list of Texas state agencies, November, 1992.
6 Interview with Kathy Wilburn, Governor s Management Development Center, Austin, Texas, November 20, 1992.
7 Ibid.
8 Letter from Craig Pedersen, Executive Director, Texas Water Development Board to Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, November 24, 1992.
9 Department of Information Resources, 1992 Agency Annual Performance Reports on Information Resources Technology (Austin, Texas, 1992).
10 Interview with Barry Lovelace, Director, Governor s Management Development Center, Austin, Texas, November 13, 1992.
11 Wiggenhorn, William, Motorola U: When Training Becomes Education, Harvard Business Review, (July/August, 1990), p. 75.
12 Steve Jerkins Turnover: Correcting the Causes, Personnel (December 1988).
13 The National Association of Personnel Executives and The Council of State Governments, State Personnel Office: Roles and Functions (Lexington, Kentucky, 1991).
14 Telephone interview with Dr. Alma Joseph, Director of the New Jersey Human Resource Development Institute, November 13, 1992.
15 Civil Service Reform: Recommendations for Reforming Florida s Civil Service System, Tallahassee, Florida, November 12, 1992, p. 41.
16 Public Personnel Administration by Lawsuit: The Impact of Supreme Court Decision on Public Employee Litigiousness, Public Administration Review, (May/June 1991).
17 Comptroller of Public Accounts, Claims Report for object code 7226, fiscal 1992. (Report run October 11, 1992).
18 Interview with Kathy Wilburn, Austin Texas, November 20, 1992; and Kay Baker, Training and Education Consultant, Baker, Byrd & Associates, Inc., November 10, 1992.
19 Comptroller of Public Accounts, Claims Report for object code 7226, fiscal 1992 (Report run November 10, 1992).