Government Accountability Office collaborates with other government agencies to spread L&D ideas

Posted: 08/13/2013
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With reduced government budgets, learning and training programs run by U.S. government agencies have had to become more innovative and collaborative. Gus Crosetto, chief learning officer of the Government Accountability Office, will be speaking at this year's Corporate Learning Week, November 12-15 at Disney's Yacht Club Resort in Orlando, Florida. To learn more about Gus, visit his speaker page here. Check out our video interview with Gus above or the full text transcription below.

This video cast includes discussion on:

  • How to align learning and training technology with a company's mission
  • Steps to measure ROI by meeting specific achievement goals and competencies
  • How to collaborate with other similar institutions to share ideas and best practices for learning and training


What have you been working on since you entered the role of CLO at the Government Accountability Office?

Two main areas of concentration: Diversity and inclusion in training as part of our larger program of diversity and inclusion and executive and leadership development. In parallel to that is the professional development for the auditors and analysts that make up the majority of the employee types at the Government Accountability Office, and working on the development of competency models and running the learning programs in a way that they're tightly coupled to talent management.

Can you outline some of the technologies you use at the Government Accoutability Office and how that plays a role in your learning and development process?

I look at technology in three big areas: development of learning, the delivery of learning and for the administration through learning management. So our learning management system is SumTotal. It does the basics that we need for managing registrations, reporting and so on. We also do distance learning using Adobe Connect. We have a contract with Skillsoft, so we offer a variety on online learning through that contract. We also do WebEx and virtual teleconferencing using WebEx and Adobe Connect.

It sounds like a lot of things at play here. The follow up question always is: How do you avoid just using technology because it's available, for technology's sake?

I've been asked that question before and usually my answer is, I just don't. The way we do it is we align it very closely to the mission. So any time we invest in technology, it goes through a rigorous process of analyzing the return on investment and the return on expectation of what that technology is trying to do for us, not only in the short term, but also in the long term. We make sure that it's fully aligned with the mission of the learning programs that we are deploying and that as a way of checking that, we continuously monitor the technology to make sure that it's aligned with our program goals and objectives.

Another area that has received much attention recently is showing your department's worth. What steps do you take to show ROI for learning and development?

We constantly measure the outputs of our programs in terms of achievement of specific competencies. We have defined a performance management system with specific competencies and we align all of our programs to those specific competencies. We also establish, although not in a quantitative way, we establish professional proficiencies that people need to meet. Through the coupling of the learning system and the performance management system, we are able to tell whether people are behaving and performing in the way it's expected.

Looking toward the future: What do you see as the big challenges that are leaning on the horizon? What steps are you taking to address those challenges?

The biggest challenge right now for the federal government at large is the economic situation with a reduced budget and reduced resources. So being more efficient, collaborating, being able to leverage technology in multiple ways and programs in multiple ways is the way to go. We are working in conjunction with the Chief Learning Officers Council, which is a cross agency council of about 20 agencies and we look at ways to collaborate, share information, share programs. Also, in the federal government, we have the Office of Personnel Management who has a very extensive website for sharing information and collaborating with the different agencies.

Can you speak more about the council? With the council, what are some of the ideas that have come out of that group meeting?

Primarily, collaboration. How can we leverage the efforts we put forth? Now, the federal government, each agency operates in a somewhat isolated way, especially when it comes to investment in learning and technology, so by sharing information, by doing projects in conjunction with each other, and to an extent to share contracts, we've been able to leverage a lot of the federal learning budgets.

Before I let you go, what are you most excited to see at this year's conference?

I'm really looking forward to meeting people, sharing ideas, recharging my batteries through conversation. The one thing that sort of stuck out, I'm going to be next to a fire place?

A fireplace chat. Yeah. That's what we're billing it as. One of those, like from FDR, he would have those fireside chats, very government focused. Yeah, a nice kind of intimate way of discussing new ideas.

Hopefully, we'll be able to move to the pool side.