DoD overhauling training systems, creating central repository

The Defense Department is undertaking a massive overhaul of the way it trains troops and civilians by hosting courses in a singular online repository.

The effort — which has been about a year in the making, but was conceived as early as 2016 — coincides with the need for more training to move to an online setting as COVID-19 continues to grip the nation.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has really reinforced the body’s commitment to using digital learning processes and to modernizing those systems to provide even more advanced enterprise solutions,” DoD Chief Management Office Lisa Hershman said Monday at a National Training and Simulation Association event. “We can look at Joint Staff. Their joint knowledge online system has been hitting record highs delivering more than 500,000 hours of training every week. So that’s a very impressive performance metric.”

While the Joint Staff educational system has been able to handle mass amounts of training, it is still a bespoke system that DoD wants to bring into its larger umbrella.

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“The department has tens of thousands of training courses, disparately managed throughout the enterprise, over 150 distinct learning management systems,” Hershman said.

She added that the modernization effort to bring all of those systems into one platform provides a culture shift in how DoD does business.

“By making our education and training resources available in a one stop shop portal. We can better leverage existing resources and optimize innovations that help organizations actually share information,” Hershman said. “With a simple keyword search. You will be able to access a course such as agile for DoD acquisition team and all of the related courses across the DoD for professional development or perhaps to earn a certification.”

The Pentagon is also developing a “learner record repository,” which will track individual training and education. By consolidating records into a single area DoD can look at a learner’s profile to get a picture of their potential and help that person keep their educational history in order, Hershman said.

The system will also have a searchable enterprise course catalog that will make resources available to trainees.

DoD expects to save $22 million from the initiative by reducing redundancies and consolidating operations.

“Historically, each DoD organization has independently acquired its digital learning systems, software licenses, courseware and other services,” Hershman said. “This lends itself to unnecessary duplications, for example, to different offices in an organization acquiring licenses for the same software instead of using the same license. With the consolidation, organizations can work with USALearning to determine which licenses are available and how to leverage existing license agreements.”

The $22 million in savings is small compared to the billions of dollars previous studies have found in DoD waste, not to mention the fact that most of the department has not been successfully audited.

However, the 2021 defense authorization bill calls for dismantling the chief management officer position and reorganizing the resources in other ways to save DoD time and money.

Since that provision became public, Hershman has been making more public appearances and hyping up the successes of the office.

If the modernization plan improves the way employees train it could be a win for the CMO office, while also saving money for DoD.