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Training and Development Policy Wiki

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Low and No Cost Training Options

Organizations must continue the operation of training and development even in times of tighter budgets. There are a number of different ways organizations can train their workforce with minimal expenditures. One obvious way of controlling costs is limiting the number of people sent externally for training. Other easy ways to decrease costs and increase the quality of training in your organization is through on-the-job training, using technology, offering online training, free webinars or simply formalizing the informal training that’s already occurring on a daily basis. By implementing some of the suggestions on this page, you can increase the quality of your training offerings while incurring little to no cost.

Federal Government Tools and Resources

 Federal Executive Boards

  • Agencies should coordinate with their local Federal Executive Board (FEB) for cost-effective training opportunities and pre-retirement seminars in their area. Historically, the Federal Executive Boards have offered low cost and sometimes no-cost training courses and seminars for federal employees. Fees arranged through the FEB are usually considerably less than published rates or tuitions from commercial sources.

The U.S. Department of Justice – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives (ATF)

  • ATF’s Stepping up to Leadership Program (SUTL) is a twelve-month aspiring leaders program for non-supervisory GS-9s, 11s, and 12s. The program includes a mix of formal coursework, leadership competency assessments, and personally assigned activities aimed at developing the leadership competencies of program participants. Participants spend approximately eight hours a month on program activities, which include monthly (web-based) training sessions, online team meetings, and individualized learning using online courses available through the agency’s Learning Management System (LMS). The SUTL program is evaluated using monthly training surveys and a final leadership assessment measuring the change in leadership competency scores for each participant. Costs are limited to the purchase of leadership books. All other costs of the program are offset using existing training resources within the agency. For further information please contact the ATF Chief Learning Officer (CLO).

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

  • The DOE Blended Learning Approach is a tool to assist individuals, manager, and learning and development professionals address employee development needs. It provides informal and formal methods as well as a systematic process for creating blended learning solutions. For more information or a copy of the tool, please contact the DOE Chief Learning Officer (CLO).

Private Sector Tools and Resources





Search the LinkedIn sitefor events by subject matter or location to find seminars, speaker presentations, and workshops.

@Lrnchat/#lrnchat (Learn Chat on Twitter)

An online chat session that occurs overTwitterevery Thursday at 8:30-10:00pm EST/5:30-7:00pm PST.You can follow @LearnChat at, or visit their website:


A computer software program used to deliver, track, and manage training. Widely used throughout corporate universities, a LMS provides the employee easy access register, schedule and complete the courses. The type of training an LMS can provide is synchronous (self-instruction), asynchronous (collaboration with others), blended and classroom based training.


Learning conducted through an electronic media. E-learning (or virtual) courses have become a common training delivery method for many organizations. E-learning courses provide significant benefits to both the learner and organization mainly because they can be accessed from anywhere at any time and saves on facilitator and logistical needs in the long run. Many agencies offer e-learning courses through their LMS to allow easy access and create a record of completed courses.

Here are some examples of e-learning resources:


Live event (meetings, presentations, etc.) conducted via the internet using a specified learning platform. During the webinar, the facilitator engages with participants through various means while participants view the content remotely. Webinars can be recorded and posted online for future viewing. Some training based organizations offer free webinars to industry-based organizations.


A series of digital audio or video media files available for download through websites. Podcasts are great tools to have for the workforce to attend at various times due to shift work or difficult availability. Podcasts can be available on demand for anytime learning by employees – in the office, during the commute, or at home. Podcasts, which offer an alternative to reading that appeals to employees who prefer learning modes, enable employees to learn about issues, innovations, and best practices.

Here are some examples of on-demand professional and personal development podcasts:


Allows for multiple users to connect at the same time through video and/or audio technology to participate in trainings, meetings, or presentations. Videoconferencing is extremely helpful in organizations with global sites that also need regulatory training.


Visit OPM’s Training and Development Wiki site to access additional free training information.


Trade magazines/Journals

Trade magazines are a good way for employees to learn about issues, innovations, and best practices. Subscription costs continue to decline and many publications are now free. A few publications are provided free or at lower cost with an association membership. Often, a paper subscription comes with online access to the same content. The lists below provides examples of trade magazines and journals by professional discipline.

For Learning & Development and Human Resources Professionals:

For Project Managers:

  • PM Network (available with paid membership in the Project Management Institute)

For I.T. Professionals:

For Education Technology Professionals:

For Budget and Program Analysts:

For Supervisors, Managers, and Executives:

  • Government Executive (free)
  • The Public Manager (subscription)
  • Governing (State & Local) (free)
  • PA Times (available with paid membership in the American Society of Public Administration)  





Hands on learning experience for employees to use required equipment and resources as they learn the job. This method of training would be the most effective learning environment for employees because they transfer learned skills onto the job as they gain the requisite knowledge and skills through instruction.


Learning experience where employees share and/or train their colleagues on skills they learned through training or self-discovery. The employee is labeled as the trainer with subject matter expertise for the particular topic and is designated to train other employees in the future.

CROSS-TRAINING (e.g., Details, Developmental Assignments, Special Projects)

Training that covers several tasks within a department or office. Employees in the department will master their own assigned tasks and the tasks of their co-workers in the event that assistance or additional coverage is needed in that area. Cross-training can typically be accomplished internally with more senior or experienced employees being the trainers. Also, cross-training can be used at any time, especially when there’s high turnover and vacant positions cannot be backfilled immediately because of extenuating circumstances.


An experiential development process which facilitates change and growth in both individuals and groups. In Federal government, coaching is utilized to address professional or business-related challenges. Through structured dialogue, coaches assist their coachees to deepen their insights and translate those insights into actions. Coaches apply specific techniques and skills, approaches, and methodologies that enable the coachees to develop their goals and design actions to achieve them. The coachee drives the coaching agenda, and is ultimately responsible for the outcome of the coaching engagement.

OPM in partnership with the Chief Learning Officer's Council has established The Federal Coaching Network to cultivate an environment of continuous learning and individual and organizational performance excellence by promoting positive leadership practices. Visit The Federal Coaching Network page for more information about the network and coaching in general.


An excellent way to provide training to a large group at no cost. Facilitators for in-house training must be the subject matter experts (SMEs) of the training topic. The SMEs must demonstrate outstanding knowledge and skill on the topic area through work tasks and competency levels.

Brown-bag lunches are a good way to invite employees to training events. In these voluntary one-hour sessions, individuals bring their lunch and learn about the presented topic.

Employees designated to facilitate these training events also gain valuable leadership and facilitation skills to help them in their professional development.


Agencies may have various professional development /affinity groups or communities of practice that employees can take advantage of to increase their knowledge and skill-sets in a specific field of study. Toastmasters International is one example of a group that can help you develop presentation skills, which are essential to any job. There is a minimal fee for this group (See you agencies Toastmaster representative.). 

Professional associations outside of your agency can be another avenue for development. Membership fees may apply for these associations.

 Additional Ideas

  • Invite managers or executives into a meeting to discuss a pre-identified topic or highlight agency accomplishments.
  • Provide opportunities for networking:
    • Share links to professional association events.
    • Invite subject matter experts (SMEs) from your field or other fields to meet with your employees. The SME sessions can occur during staff meetings, brown bag lunches, or retreats; and focus on various topics of interest (including recent work challenges) or more general information.
    • Host interagency events to promote dialogue and deepen relationships for future collaborative efforts.
    • Organize cross-agency meetings to allow people of similar fields of study/work (E.g. grants management) to share their thoughts on best practices.
  • Organize a book club. Book clubs can help to:
    • Increase/expand employee’s knowledge and skills
    • Increase camaraderie among employees
    • Build leadership skills through facilitating group discussions, organizing events, and etc. 

Some book vendors or agencies may have established book clubs that you can join or provide assistance in identifying guest authors to speak during your book club session.Follow these simple steps to create your book club. 

  • Invite the Federal Executive Board or DHS Fusion Center Directors to visit, so prospective leaders can find out how agencies are collaborating in the community.
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