Elearning Business Case by mkg61204

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									United States Department of Agriculture
    (USDA) eGovernment Program
     Business Profile – Concept of Operations
            eLearning Business Case
                       Final
                    February 2003
                                                 eLearning – Business Profile – Concept of Operations


                                                Table of Contents

Revision History ...................................................................................................................ii
    Previous Change History ................................................................................................ ii
    Document Sign-off.......................................................................................................... ii
1      Introduction ..................................................................................................................1
    1.1        eLearning Description ......................................................................................... 1
2      Current Situation .........................................................................................................3
    2.1      Current Capability............................................................................................... 3
       2.1.1     Internet Combined Administrative Management System (I-CAMS) ........... 4
       2.1.2     mGen ........................................................................................................... 5
       2.1.3     Training Integrated Personnel System and Virtual Training Assistant
       (TIPS/VTA) .................................................................................................................. 5
       2.1.4     Analysis of Current Capabilities................................................................. 6
    2.2      Customers and Users........................................................................................... 9
3      Desired Capability .......................................................................................................10
    3.1      Vision ................................................................................................................ 10
       3.1.1      Contracting to an Application Service Provider ...................................... 13
       3.1.2      Governance ............................................................................................... 13
       3.1.3      Administration........................................................................................... 14
       3.1.4      Collaboration ............................................................................................ 14
    3.2      Business Criticality ........................................................................................... 15
       3.2.1      President’s Management Agenda ............................................................. 15
       3.2.2      USDA Secretarial Priority ........................................................................ 16
       3.2.3      USDA eGovernment Strategic Plan .......................................................... 16
       3.2.4      Executive Order 12866 ............................................................................. 17
       3.2.5      Office of Management and Budget Circular A-123 .................................. 17
       3.2.6      Office of Management and Budget Circular A-130 .................................. 17
       3.2.7      Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 ............................................................ 17
       3.2.8      Quality of Information Guidelines ............................................................ 18
       3.2.9      Government Paper Elimination Act (GPEA) Compliance........................ 18
       3.2.10     Section 508 Compliance ........................................................................... 18
    3.3      Project Objectives and Anticipated Results ...................................................... 19




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Revision History
Previous Change History

Table a – Previous Change History
    VERSION             DATE         AUTHOR                            COMMENT
      0.1             10/24/2002     Amanda R. Plummer                 Initial Draft
      0.2             10/29/2002     Amanda R. Plummer                 Incorporated team comments
      1.0             11/11/2002     Elaine K. Turville                Incorporated team comments
      1.1             11/12/2002     Elaine K. Turville                Updated bullet lists
      1.2             11/13/2002     Elaine K. Turville                Updated with review comments
      1.3             11/22/2002     Amanda R. Plummer                 Updated with team comments
      1.4             11/23/2002     Amanda R. Plummer                 Updated with team comments
      1.5             11/24/2002     Elaine K. Turville                Updated with team comments
      1.6             12/02/2002     Amanda R. Plummer                 Updated with team comments
      1.7             12/03/2002     Sara Q. Tyndall                   Updated formatting
      1.8             12/03/2002     Amanda R. Plummer                 Updated formatting
      1.9             12/09/2002     Elaine K. Turville                Updated Naming
      2.0             12/11/2002     Elaine K. Turville                Updated with team comments
      2.1             12/12/2002     Elaine K. Turville                Updated with team comments
      2.2             02/03/2003     Liesl M. Awalt                    Updated with team comments
      2.3             02/04/2003     Liesl M. Awalt                    Incorporated Sandy Facinoli
                                                                       comments
       2.4            07/25/2003     Gregory A. Zanowski               Updated to read “Final”




Document Sign-off

Table b – Document Sign-off
      DATE         NAME                                   TITLE




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                                           eLearning – Business Profile – Concept of Operations


1 Introduction

This Concept of Operations document will outline the conceptual plan for the
functionality of the eLearning initiative within the context of USDA’s current capability.
This document will first describe the current situation with a discussion of the current
capabilities and users. Capabilities refer to the actual services or processes that exist
currently at USDA. By assessing the current capability of eLearning, we can establish a
baseline from where we can determine the functionality and administration that is needed
for eLearning to be successful at USDA.

Next, it will present the desired capability with an overarching vision, a description of the
business criticality of the initiative, and the objectives and anticipated results of the
project. Another important consideration is the high level framework that will be
implemented to govern and administer the initiative within USDA. This framework will
be relatively consistent across the eGovernment initiatives. Accordingly, there is a need
for USDA to ensure Agency compliance with the new solutions, as well as maintain and
enhance collaboration among Agencies to continue their involvement with and support of
the eGovernment program throughout all phases of the process.


1.1       eLearning Description

The eLearning initiative will deliver consolidated, easy to use learning services across
USDA through a strategic partnership with an application service provider specializing in
eLearning implementation, delivery, and support. The eLearning solution will
encompass learning management, along with learning content management, performance
management, and collaboration all delivered through an accessible online interface.

A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software application that enables the
delivery and management of all facets of training methodologies, including the ability to
manage classrooms, learning assets, instructors, schedules, learning paths and all of the
necessary components to deliver training in an effective manner. An LMS provides
instructors with the ability to create and deliver content and monitor student participation
and assess student performance. Also, an LMS allows individuals and groups of users to:

          View complete course listings and course information;
          Register, schedule, and track training sessions;
          Track competency and certification progress;
          Personalize training and development plans; and
          Manage payments.




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Even though the LMS is at the core of the eLearning solution, the Agencies have
collectively decided that a complete eLearning solution is what is needed and desired at
USDA. Throughout the requirements gathering process, Agencies have requested the
additional functionality commonly used in conjunction with an LMS, such as the ability
to:

        Develop learning and knowledge objects, courses, and modules to help the user
         learn;
        Manage performance through feedback and coaching, development planning,
         objective setting, and performance appraisal;
        Manage the knowledge assets, including documents, discussion databases,
         methods, and support for expert communities; and
        Allow learners to collaborate with each other electronically through such things as
         chat rooms and threaded discussions.

A few Agencies have already implemented the functionality of a learning management
system and are reaping the benefits from this decision. However, all Agencies will profit
from the adoption of a complete, enterprise-wide eLearning solution.




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2 Current Situation

Across the Department, a host of duplicative training services is offered, software
licenses have been purchased, and work directly related to the procurement, design,
implementation and management of training activities was performed. Many
organizations within USDA use some tools to provide training to its employees.
However, USDA does not currently employ a Department-wide system that utilizes the
training assets of all Agencies to prevent duplication of course offerings and training
services and leverage economies of scale pricing.

2.1       Current Capability

This section evaluates the current functionality of online training systems in USDA. In
addition, any existing business processes that are relevant to this initiative and the
organizational structure around these processes must also be evaluated. The same criteria
being used to evaluate the current state of eLearning can be used to frame the discussion
of the capabilities and services that are needed for the future eLearning program.

The following section gives a brief overview of the USDA systems used to manage and
administer training within USDA. A number of Agencies currently use or intend to use
one of several online systems, with varying degrees of functionality, for learning
management. The following is a list of systems and the Agencies that support these
systems:

          Internet Combined Administrative Management System (I-CAMS)
               o Natural Resources Conservation Service;
               o Farm Service Agency;
               o Rural Development; and
               o Agricultural Marketing Service.
          mGen
               o Office of Communications;
               o Risk Management Agency;
               o Rural Development; and
               o Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service1.
          Training Integrated Personnel System (TIPS) and Virtual Training Assistant
           (VTA)
               o Forest Service; and
               o Food Safety and Inspection Service.




1
    APHIS has purchased mGen software licenses but has not yet deployed the system.

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Overall, the existing learning management systems within USDA address have the
following limitations:

        Few Agencies maintain a computer-based learning management system;
        No Agency addresses all the functionality listed above, and for Agencies with
         some of the listed functionality, it is available only on an individual Agency-
         specific basis without much cooperation across the Department; and
        Processes addressed in these capabilities are usually handled manually using
         paper.

2.1.1 Internet Combined Administrative Management System (I-CAMS)
The National Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, Rural
Development, and Agricultural Marketing Service have access to I-CAMS. The system
currently provides access to 58,081 registered users. Over 2,574 courses are listed in the
catalogue.

I-CAMS is a Web-based integrated human resources information system that allows
employees to access employment information from a centralized database maintained by
the Human Resources Department. The system allows employees to view their
performance reviews, supervisors to initiate and store performance plans and reviews,
and all users to request, process and review training and other self-service functions.
Personnel actions are interfaced to the National Finance Center for payroll purposes.

I-CAMS tracks and manages different types of learning, including Web-based,
classroom-based, virtual classroom, computer-based training (CBTs), videos, and self-
paced learning. In conjunction with the Human Resources Department, training
specialists have the necessary access to execute comprehensive personnel and training
actions. The system also provides users with advanced certification and training program
management. Customized views tailor the relevant eLearning information for the
students, managers, instructors, and training administrators.

The Training Module of ICAMS has automatic workflow between employee and
supervisor and to training officers and training specialists. There are automatic email
reminders to supervisors to check requests and notification to employees for course
enrollment and cancellations. For non-catalog training requests, online evaluation is used
upon completion to permit the employee to record completion, rescheduling or
substitution of attendees.

NRCS and FSA currently use ToolBook, which provides capabilities such as pre and post
testing and interim use statistics, to author Web-based classes. ICAMS has the capability
to link to Web-based training that is authored in ToolBook and update the employee’s
training history.



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2.1.2 mGen
The Office of Communications (OC), Risk Management Agency (RMA), and Rural
Development (RD) currently utilize a packaged learning management system called
mGen that also serves as a knowledge management system and distance learning
mechanism. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has recently
purchased mGen licenses but has not yet deployed the system. For RMA, 10,000 users
have access to the system but only 1,500 can have access to the system at one time for a
total of fifty courses. There are 319 users from the Rural Development Agency that use
mGen to access the fifty courses purchased by OC.

The mGen system comprises four subsystems, including news and information,
knowledge communities, knowledge capital management, and learning and content
management. These subsystems enable mGen to facilitate a blended learning
environment that can accommodate traditional classroom-based learning, eLearning,
news and information, and knowledge communities. Course content available from
Learn2, SmartForce, NETg, and ElementK can be quickly integrated into the system.
The mGen system provides a built-in content management system, content authoring
tools, assessment tools for quizzes and exams and skills gap analysis.

USDA utilizes the functionality of mGen in an application service provider model. The
cost model allows the Agencies to pay based on usage. The mGen system has extensive
functionality, but USDA Agencies are only utilizing the following capabilities:

        Personalized course management for users;
        Customized administrative capabilities to support curriculum management and
         users;
        Integrated collaboration capabilities;
        Standardized course registration and wait listing; and
        Incorporated content management.

2.1.3 Training Integrated Personnel System and Virtual Training Assistant
      (TIPS/VTA)
Currently, 12,000 students are registered on the Forest Service (FS) system with 8,000
active users and approximately 3,000 courses. Usage of the system is currently not
mandatory. The Food Safety and Inspection Service is utilizing the Virtual Training
Assistant (VTA) software platform for learning tracking only but is not using the full
learning management capabilities. They have 15,000 names, including both active and
retired users, in the system, and fifty courses listed in the catalogue available to their
users.




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Training Integrated Personnel System (TIPS) is comprised of two major pieces: a USDA
custom-developed application and Virtual Training Assistant (VTA), a third-party
learning management platform. The first part of the system, which was developed by the
Forest Service, provides training assessments, individual competency-based development
plans, and tracking of completed training. TIPS allows students to evaluate themselves
against competencies required for their present position and future positions while
completing their individual development plans.

The second part of the system is an off-the-shelf version of the VTA learning
management platform purchased from RISC, Inc. This software provides course catalogs
and Web-based course registration. VTA is an older product, originally released in 1992,
and it emphasizes certification management and testing functionality. It focuses on the
traditional features of a learning management system, such as administration and the
delivery of content. VTA is missing much of the functionality of newer learning
management systems, such as performance management, content development tools, or
content management tools.

2.1.4 Analysis of Current Capabilities
To analyze the current capabilities, a “best of breed” benchmark was defined as a
comparison vehicle to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the existing systems.
The following are the capabilities that were researched:

        Administration of curriculum – Trainers can adjust curriculums for their
         constituents whether that is an entire Agency or group of individuals or one
         person;
        Individualized training – Students can select from a set of courses that are
         intended to provide him/her with a set of skills;
        Registration for training – Students can register for training, either offered
         online or offline, within the USDA or outside;
        eCommerce/Financial Support – The integration of a learning management
         system with Department financial systems to centralize the procurement of
         training;
        Training delivery platforms – The online delivery platforms supported by the
         management system;
        Content Publishing for online courses - The creation and maintenance of
         content in a specific eLearning module using a common content management
         capability;
        Standardized Skills Assessment – A common skills assessment capability;
        Human Resources System Integration – Training can be tracked on an
         individual's personnel record; and
        Collaboration with other learners – Tools that enable users to collaborate with
         each other during the learning process.



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The following sections list the current state of each capability.

2.1.4.1    Administration of the Curriculum and Individualized Training

Agencies have different methods of creating employee-training curriculums and
individual development plans. I-CAMS, mGen, and TIPS/VTA all have the ability to list
training courses and allow users to select from available training courses. These systems
also allow employees to register for training, and add or modify their own training
history. The systems also have the capability to allow administrators to register
employees for courses or make changes to their training plans.

Agencies who are not utilizing the systems named above do maintain a set of individual
development plans, worked out jointly between an employee and their supervisor, but
these plans are not maintained electronically. The functions of registration, scheduling,
and tracking of training are still performed manually.

2.1.4.2    Financial Support

USDA has recently implemented a uniform accounting system called Foundation
Financial Information System (FFIS). Payment for all training is, either directly or
through feeder systems, routed through the FFIS system. The current learning
management systems are not integrated with this system directly, thus processes outside
of the learning management system are used to charge for training.

2.1.4.3    Training Delivery Platforms and Content Publishing Capabilities

Agencies utilizing the two learning management systems, mGen and VTA, are able to
deliver training modules electronically. For online courses, after a user successfully
registers for a course, the course is immediately available to them through the online
system. I-CAMS supports online training delivery by linking training requests made by
employees to Web-based courses developed by the Agencies in Toolbook and returns
completed Web-based training information to I-CAMS training history.

Many Agencies in USDA lack the ability to deliver online training. They utilize other
distribution methods, such as CD-ROM and paper-based materials, for training
distribution.

2.1.4.4    Standardized Skills Assessments

The Forest Service’s learning management system has combined its learning
management system with a custom-built skills assessment program. Trainees and
supervisors can link training with skills, skills with needed training, and produce reports.
The mGen system also offers skills assessment capabilities, but USDA is not currently
utilizing this functionality.



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Other Agencies have created performance management tools, such as skills assessment
capabilities or 360 degree feedback functionality, but these tools are not maintained
within a single system, and in some cases, are not administered electronically at all.

2.1.4.5    Human Resources Systems Integration

Human resources (HR) organizations in the Department are no longer required to
maintain a training history as a part of the official personnel record. However, in most
Agencies, it is the responsibility of the individual employee and their supervisor to keep
track of the completion of their training. All USDA Agencies provide an HR function,
either through computer-based systems or manual processes, but there is little interaction
between each Agency’s learning management system and its HR systems. Because I-
CAMS is the HR system for the Agencies it supports, it has the most integration between
its training and HR functionality.

2.1.4.6    Collaboration with other learners

No collaboration capabilities have been exclusively built for users collaborating through
online learning exercises. However, traditional forms of collaboration such as audio
conference, email, and videoconference do exist and are used by agencies. The mGen
system has the capability to deliver collaboration, but USDA is not currently utilizing this
functionality.




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2.2       Customers and Users

The eLearning initiative affects both internal and external key customers and
stakeholders. It is important to consider the impact of the initiative on these groups
within a discussion of the current situation at USDA. The following are the primary
customer groups addressed by the eLearning initiative outlined in this business case:

          Citizens: Service to citizens will improve dramatically as USDA employees
           receive the right training to increase their productivity on the job;

          Public and Private Organizations: Access to training will increase USDA’s
           business partners’ ability to effectively conduct business. Service to business
           partners will improve through better training for the USDA employees with
           whom they interact; and

          Employees: Any USDA employee who receives, administers, or manages
           training will benefit from the enterprise-wide eLearning initiative as they receive
           appropriate training delivered in an effective and efficient manner.




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3 Desired Capability

This section describes the vision for the management of eLearning as well as a discussion
of the business need and justification for implementing this initiative at USDA.
Additionally, this section also outlines the project objectives and the organizational
structure that must be in place in order to create and sustain a LMS at the USDA.

3.1    Vision

The eLearning initiative is part of the twelve eGovernment Smart Choices that were
delineated in USDA's eGovernment Strategic Plan FY 2002-2006. This eGovernment
Strategic Plan was the result of an intensive Department-wide effort that included
hundreds of individuals at all levels of the enterprise, including executives and non-
executives, headquarters and the field offices, domestic and international, and all
Agencies and staff offices, modeled in many respects after the Presidential initiatives.
Guided by an eGovernment Working Group comprised of an appointed representative
from every Agency and staff office and an eGovernment Executive Council representing
each mission area, the Plan specifies high-level goals, objectives, strategic and enabling
initiatives, critical success factors, performance measure and timelines.

The twelve Smart Choices are all cross-mission area, enterprise-wide or inter-
Departmental in nature. These initiatives are the prioritized results of a process that
originally identified hundreds of prospective eGovernment opportunities. For each of the
initiatives, including eLearning, an interagency/inter-departmental team of USDA
business and technical leads are driving the efforts to complete all necessary analysis to
secure the funding and move towards implementation.

A successful, enterprise-wide eLearning environment implemented by each Agency in
USDA and administered through a central learning management platform will allow the
combination of existing methodologies and emerging technologies. These tools will
provide a more effective learning experience at significant cost reduction. Increasingly,
trainers will be able to effectively design a training program using a combination of self-
paced and live learning experiences over the Web or other electronic media, traditional
instructor-led training, and various other forms of instruction. By sharing training
experiences, successes and common platforms, Agencies will increase their ability to
utilize new training methodologies without duplicating efforts or shouldering the burden
of technology implementation alone.




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The eLearning initiative will deliver the following capabilities:

3.1.1.1    Administration of the System and Individualized Training

Individual employees will be able to log onto the system to examine courses offered
throughout the enterprise and, in some cases, the Federal Government. Where allowed,
employees will be able to register for training offered by Agencies other than their own.
Trainers can also look at courses offered by other Agencies, to determine if any of them
could be leveraged before selecting or creating new courses.

3.1.1.2    Financial Support

The existence of a single place for entering and tracking the costs of training will
improve reporting and planning. The system will have to be compatible with the existing
Foundation Financial Information System. Once this integration is completed, there will
be a single department-wide system for tracking the costs of Agency and department
training. Offering joint training between Agencies will be easier and more efficient than
ever due to costs being tracked through a single system.

3.1.1.3    Training Delivery and Content Publishing

The delivery of training through an enterprise-wide learning management system
promises to provide the greatest reduction of redundancy and cost savings. A single
system will encourage agency training divisions to utilize common authoring systems to
prepare training materials. By so doing, it will be easy to tailor course material prepared
by one Agency to meet the specific needs of another as little or no special effort will be
required.

The delivery of courses through Web pages, for both customers and employees, will save
time and effort on the part of trainers and training material developers. It will also save
travel funds and reduce the amount of time employees spend getting to and from training
sites. Training material that is delivered directly to customers and employees exactly
when needed will prove much more effective.




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3.1.1.4    Standardized Skills Assessments

The ability to link skills and employees in a learning management system will allow
leaders to select the correct employees for specialized tasks, establish working groups
composed of the most capable individuals, and ensure that those needing training to
enhance their skills receive it. It also will allow employees to determine where their
skills need to be strengthened or to understand the requirements necessary to advance to a
higher level.

An enterprise-wide learning management system will allow USDA human resources
personnel, supervisors, and managers to discover employees in other disciplines or
Agencies who possess the skills that are required for a particular function. Provision of
this service at a central location will ensure that USDA is able to assemble an effective
workforce.

3.1.1.5    Human Resource System Integration

A centralized learning management system will provide employees with a single source
of information about their training history that presently may be very difficult to obtain.
Such record keeping will allow employees to better plan for the future, improve their
skills, and determine skills that are needed for position advancement, career development,
or career changes.

3.1.1.6    Collaboration With Other Learners

The ability to interact with other trainees will significantly improve the delivery of
training. A learning management system will provide a new level of service for the
customers, partners, and employees of USDA. The use of chat rooms on the Internet, a
place for answers to frequently asked questions, an electronic mentoring space, and other
collaborative technologies will increase the efficacy of the Department’s training
materials. Cross-disciplinary information, transcending the Departments many programs,
will encourage interactive learning and enhance the overall trainee experience.




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3.1.1 Contracting to an Application Service Provider
The best way for USDA to implement this vision for eLearning is to contract the
development, implementation, and support of the system to an experienced application
service provider. Contracting to an application service provider of eLearning has been a
successful model for both private companies and Government Agencies.

Contracting to an application service provider provides economies of scale benefits
resulting from all USDA employees utilizing an enterprise-wide learning management
platform managed and administrated by the provider. In addition to the generic benefits
realized through the implementation of an enterprise-wide solution, contracting to an
application service provider presents the following additional benefits:

        A consistent cost is incurred since no initial capital outlays are necessary, and
         services are paid for based on usage on a per person basis.
        Agency resources are not required for the initial system implementation and,
         fewer Agency resources are required to maintain or administer the system.
        Vendor agreements can be constructed to decrease implementation time,
         facilitating earlier Agency adoption of new solutions.

3.1.2 Governance
To facilitate the development and operations of eLearning within USDA, a governance
structure will be created. Some consistent elements of a governance structure will exist
across USDA for all of the eGovernment initiatives, including an executive sponsor for
the initiative, who would provide support for the development of the investment through
its lifecycle, and an eGovernment Advisory Team. The dedication of this sponsor to the
success of the program will be inherent to the continued funding and USDA cooperation.

The eGovernment Advisory Team will consist of the following groups:

        eGovernment Executive Council;
        eGovernment Working Group;
        eGovernment Steering Committee; and
        Agency eGovernment Teams.

The Advisory Team will be responsible for periodically monitoring Agency initiatives for
adherence to USDA’s Strategic Plan, existing laws and regulations, OMB requirements,
and business requirements. They will also be responsible for mediating any conflicts that
arise among the Agencies and resolving them in the best interest of USDA in upholding
or modifying existing standards.




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3.1.3 Administration
An eGovernment Program Management Office (PMO) will provide overall strategic
planning and project management for the eGovernment initiatives including eLearning,
eAuthentication, and eDeployment. This will ensure that all eGovernment initiatives are
planned and implemented in a consistent manner under the auspices of the eGovernment
executive leadership and advisory team. The Program Management Office will require
the following skills:

        Project management;
        Financial management;
        Contract management;
        Asset management; and
        Documentation management.

Within each Agency, there will be designated employees who will be tasked with the
daily operational activities for the solution. Within Human Resources, the roles and
responsibilities of existing employees with will be modified and new roles may be
created to adapt to the administrative needs of the initiative. The management and
oversight of the system and initiative should include the following representatives:

        Human Resources Management Personnel Officers; and
        Agency Training Directors.

3.1.4 Collaboration
Continued collaboration within USDA is essential to the enduring success of eLearning.
The concept of inter-agency collaboration is an inherent component of the USDA’s
eGovernment program. It is in the best interest of the initiative to ensure continued
interoperability throughout USDA. The plan for continued collaboration in eLearning
centers on an environment that fosters cross-agency and cross-initiative measures.

To maximize additional benefits, eLearning should be integrated with the other USDA
eGovernment initiatives. The Web presence initiative will work to define a consistent
look and feel for the online learning management system. Leveraging the
eAuthentication initiative will add the ability for secure transactions of sensitive HR-
related information. Secure transactions could be supported to allow employees to pay
for necessary out of budget training. Finally, the content management initiative would
provide the ability to integrate the authoring of custom content in the learning
management system.




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3.2       Business Criticality

eLearning is an extremely critical initiative for USDA. The Office of Management and
Budget (OMB) mandated the implementation of a Federal Government-wide learning
management system. eTraining is also a Presidential Initiative.

For USDA, employee development is enormously important in its pursuit of an effective
workforce. As the world continues to change, employees face new challenges. They
need new skills to meet the demands of the Departments, business partners, and citizens.

In addition to these needs, the following Federal and Department efforts provide
additional support for the eLearning initiative:

          President’s Management Agenda;
          USDA Secretarial Priority;
          USDA eGovernment Strategic Plan;
          Executive Order 12866;
          Office of Management and Budget Circular A-123;
          Office of Management and Budget Circular A-130;
          Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980;
          Quality of Information Guidelines;
          Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA); and
          Section 508.

3.2.1 President’s Management Agenda
USDA eLearning supports the President’s Management Agenda and the Administration’s
emphasis on the overall improvement of education and training services. Investment in
the eLearning initiative will provide USDA employees with better access to a wider array
of training opportunities. It will support training efforts, electronic and traditional, that
are now underway throughout USDA’s Agencies.

eLearning serves to fulfill the eGovernment ideals as established by the President’s
Management Agenda. eLearning specifically addresses the President’s Strategic
Management of Human Capital Initiative to: “…provide high interest and government-
required training to government employees at economies of scale pricing.”

Investment in the eLearning initiative will provide USDA employees with better access
to a wider array of training opportunities. It will support training efforts, electronic and
traditional, that are now underway throughout USDA’s Agencies.




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3.2.2 USDA Secretarial Priority
USDA Secretarial Priority refers to the consideration that is given to projects, which
directly support the priority initiatives of the Secretary or the Administration. The
Secretarial Priority rating is awarded if the investment supports these priorities or is an
acknowledged budget priority. The components of Secretarial Priority include the
following:

        Policy statements by the Secretary, Under Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries;
        Department budget priorities; and
        Administration budget priorities.

3.2.3 USDA eGovernment Strategic Plan
The eLearning initiative is identified as a “Smart Choice” opportunity in the USDA
eGovernment strategic plan as well as multiple Agency tactical plans. Implementing
eLearning clearly supports the USDA eGovernment Strategic Goal 3: “Improve internal
efficiency by promoting enterprise-wide solutions.” Specifically, it meets the following
objectives:

        Reduction in redundant applications, systems, and/or processes;
        Increase in collaboration and information sharing among USDA employees;
        Increase in the percentage of USDA employees using eLearning to complete
         eGovernment and other training needs;
        Decrease in time spent on support functions and administrative tasks;
        Increase in number of support and administrative functions deployed Department-
         wide;
        Decrease in redundant support systems across Agencies and/or mission areas;
        Increase in employee satisfaction with support and administrative functions;
        Increase in the accuracy of management reporting and analysis; and
        Increase in the number of management processes reviewed or redesigned for
         compatibility with eGovernment initiatives and services.

Implementing eLearning supports the USDA Government Strategic Goal 1: “Improve
citizens' knowledge of and access to USDA in order to enhance service delivery” by
increase in the number of rural citizens receiving USDA training or services via the
Internet.

A successful eLearning implementation would improve the performance and productivity
of all employees through increased opportunities for and better experiences with training.




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3.2.4 Executive Order 12866
The eLearning solution supports the goals of Executive Order 12866, which addresses the
need to reform and make more efficient the regulatory process within federal
government. With increased availability and sharing of information across the enterprise,
USDA will enhance planning and coordination with respect to new and existing
regulations.

3.2.5 Office of Management and Budget Circular A-123
This Circular provides guidance to Federal managers on improving the accountability and
effectiveness of Federal programs and operations by establishing, assessing, correcting,
and reporting on management controls. USDA employees will realize such
improvements with the implementation of the eLearning solution. Through the use of the
documented business processes, management structures, and workflow standards that are
part of the eLearning solution, employees will aid in ensuring accountability for results
through cost-effective and enterprise-wide capabilities.

3.2.6 Office of Management and Budget Circular A-130
The eLearning solution directly supports the provisions of this Circular on the
management of federal information resources. The enterprise will benefit from the
implementation of standardized business processes and workflows through the eLearning
solution. Such improved organizational structures will increase the ability of USDA
management to maintain their training-related information resources.

3.2.7 Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980
The eLearning initiative will support the goals of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980.
This legislation requires various analyses, including cost impacts and evaluation of
alternatives, prior to any federal agency regulation activity. Several requirements it asks
of Federal agencies include publishing a semiannual regulatory flexibility agenda,
publish general notice of any proposed rulemaking, and prepare and make public an
initial regulatory flexibility analysis. The enterprise will benefit from the following
contributions from the eLearning implementation in complying with the Regulatory
Flexibility Act:

        Improved integration, accessibility, and quality of training-content and
         documentation due to a centralized learning management system, which permits
         more efficient and accurate compliance with regulation reporting; and
        Increased accessibility to training through the enterprise-wide capabilities.




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3.2.8 Quality of Information Guidelines
The identification and proper handling of electronic information will directly support the
impending requirements from OMB for establishing quality of information guidelines to
ensure the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information disseminated by the
Department of Agriculture.

3.2.9 Government Paper Elimination Act (GPEA) Compliance
The GPEA requires Federal agencies, by October 21, 2003, to provide individuals or
entities that deal with agencies the option to submit information or transact with the
agency electronically, and to maintain records electronically, when practicable.2 USDA’s
eLearning solution supports the GPEA by enabling USDA employees to conduct
training-related transactions electronically. For example, users can register for training
online and trainers can administer curriculums online. In addition, a learning
management system can be integrated with human resources systems to track and
maintain employees’ training schedules electronically. All of these examples are in line
with the objectives outlined in the GPEA.

3.2.10 Section 508 Compliance
USDA will ensure the eLearning solution provides ready access to information and
services in accordance with Section 508. A reasonable accommodation process will be
created and adjusted to handle requests and address complaints related to technology.

The eLearning solution will also be an excellent way to ensure courses offered online at
USDA are Section 508 compliant. If they do not pass the compliance guidelines, they
will simply not be included in the catalog of courses online.




2
 Implementation of the Government Paperwork Elimination Act, Office of Management and Budget,
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/

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3.3       Project Objectives and Anticipated Results

eLearning encompasses several overarching objectives that reflect an effort to satisfy the
current business needs of USDA with regards to eLearning. These goals define what the
investment should accomplish during its lifecycle.

As seen in the analysis of USDA’s current learning management capabilities, there are a
host of actual and prospective duplications in services offered, software licenses
purchased, and the preparation of training within USDA. An enterprise-wide learning
management solution will provide the following tangible benefits:

          Allow for economies of scale in the Department-wide purchase of eLearning
           products and services;
          Eliminate redundancies among training offered within the Department;
          Coordinate management, and promote interagency collaboration, of Federal
           eLearning services by USDA, although resources would be retained by the
           Agencies to which those resources were appropriated;
          Encourage Agencies without eLearning strategies to adopt this capability as the
           basis for their eLearning products and services;
          Enhance the skill development of USDA employees by providing access to a wide
           array of training not previously available; and
          Link the competencies to courseware and individual development plans to reach
           other government Agencies and tie them to their Agency strategic plans.




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