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  1. Field Management Directives

ORA System and Criteria for Selecting Employees for Training

ORA System and Criteria for Selecting Employees for Training
Program Management
Date Revised:
August, 10 1994


  1. Public Law 92-261 states that provision should be made for the establishment of training and education programs designed to provide a maximum opportunity for employees to advance so they may perform at their highest potential.
  2. It is ORA's policy to encourage all employees to participate in some form of continuing education activity which:
    1. will benefit the Food and Drug Administration in accomplishing its mission and,
    2. is consistent with employees' skills, knowledge, ability, needs and/or objectives.
  3. However, it must be understood that this policy must operate within the confines of a budget which will never be large enough to provide for all training desired by the Agency and/or its employees.


Federal Personnel Manual, Chapter 410
HHS Personnel Instructions, 410-1
FDA Staff Manual Guides, Sections 3120, 1432.1, and 1432.2


  1. It is FDA management's responsibility to assure that employees are provided equal opportunities to develop and expand skills, knowledge, and abilities within their limits of available opportunities, budget, and existing and anticipated work schedules.
    1. Ensure each employee is adequately trained to perform his/her assigned job.
    2. Counsel employees on needed training and encourage self-development efforts to improve employee performance of current duties and/or upward mobility.
    3. Provide employees with skills, knowledge, and ability necessary to accommodate changing technology, equipment, policies, or programs.
    4. Keep employees abreast in the "state-of-the-art" and to maintain specialized proficiencies.
    5. Assist in the upward mobility of lower level graded employees or those in dead-end jobs.
    6. Plan work so employees can be released for training.
    7. Provide on-the-job opportunities to utilize skills and knowledge acquired through training.
    8. Evaluate effectiveness of training on the employee's job.
    9. Originate the necessary documents to secure training.
    10. Provide employees any information

      (1) concerning agency directives on training and,

      (2) contained in course announcements.

  2. It is the responsibility of each employee to express general training needs and desires to management to provide the basis for formulation of annual training plans and course selection. Specifically, each employee should:
    1. seek out and identify sources of desired training
    2. through conscientious study and effort, obtain the maximum value from every training opportunity
    3. where relevant, share with co-workers the knowledge, skills and experience gained in training
    4. evaluate the effectiveness of the training
    5. obtain prior approval and authorization for all training, before registering for any course
    6. read and comply with agency policies and procedures outlined in agency directives and course announcements.


  1. Each Federal Agency must prepare an annual training plan. To comply with this requirement, the Education and Training Branch conducts an annual training needs survey with input from each Region, ORA Headquarters Office and Center. The ORA training plan and allocation of funds are based on survey responses, input from the various centers, program initiatives, agency mission, and budgetary limitations.
  2. Management identifies the training needs of their personnel and organizational units to further the mission of the Agency. Care should be taken to assure that all employees have the opportunity to express their training needs and desires. Examples of measures to systematically identify employee's career goals and objectives are:
    1. Counseling of employees
    2. Development of questionnaires
    3. Use of Individual Development Plans (IDP)
    4. Development of standard operating procedures for nominating and selecting employees for formal training.
  3. The entire process of training, from identification of needs through completion and evaluation of training, should be a process which involves individual employees as well as supervisors and managers.
    1. The annual training needs survey offers an opportunity for supervisors and employees to discuss career objectives, as well as appropriate alternatives to accomplish these objectives. Individual qualifications relative to established criteria, employee aspirations, career plans, potential, program objectives, and agency needs must be considered when making response to the survey. This will assist in the development of a viable training plan.
  4. Development of the annual training plan helps to ensure maximum utilization of resources. It provides management with:
    1. The number of employees needing training.
    2. Types of training needed to meet agency needs and program objectives.
    3. The priority identified for each training course.
    4. Determination as to whether or not desired or needed training is job related.

      (1) Training not related directly to an employee's present duties can be approved if the training needed or requested relates to types of work which he/she may reasonably be expected to perform in the future. This would relate primarily to career development training. However, with current budgetary limitations this type of training is not usually funded from the national level, except in the case of special programs such as those sponsored by the Department, e.g., mid-level, Women's Management Training Initiative, etc.

  5. Individual Development Plans (IDP's) should be developed jointly by employee and first-line supervisor. The employee should identify those areas in which skills or knowledge can be acquired to improve present job performance and opportunity for advancement. The plan will be designed based on input from the employee as he/she recognizes the need, and from the supervisor, as he/she recognizes the needs of the employee, the component unit, and the overall agency mission.
    1. The training identified as a need/desire under the supervisor's general control is expected to be reasonable.
    2. It should be emphasized that it is not necessary for each employee to be assigned training or sent to training courses. There are other methods through with employees may be provided career growth opportunities. Several of these are within the supervisor's area of authority. For example:

      (1) Work assignments: Delegation of certain areas of responsibility or the assignment of special duties can provide opportunities for developmental training experiences.

      (2) Self-development activities: These should be encouraged and supported by management. Supervisors should be prepared to advise and assist employees desiring to undertake such activities on their own time.

    3. It should be understood that the signatures of the employee and supervisor on the IDP do not represent firm commitment by the agency that the employee will receive the training. The signatures merely indicate an agreement as to the employee's development plan.
    4. An employee desiring training should initiate a training request by memorandum (or appropriate format used in the District), completed in accordance with SMG 3120.4 to the first-line supervisor and Branch Director.

      (1) The request should contain a brief description of the course, dates, time, place and, if appropriate, cost involved. A brief statement will be included as to why career objectives or technical expertise will be enhanced by attendance at the requested course.

      (2) A first-line supervisor may also nominate an individual for training, in which case the supervisor will write the memorandum.

    5. The first-line supervisor will review the request for training and make a written recommendation to the Branch Chief or next supervisory level. If several people have simultaneously applied for training which will entail absence from duty, the first-line supervisor must rank the employees' requests in order of priority of need for training and the anticipated work schedule.
    6. The second-level supervisor will review training requests received from first-line supervisors, and make a decision based on the criteria listed under "Selection Criteria for Employee Training."

      (1) It is the responsibility of the second and first-line supervisors to inform their employees of the approval of disapproval of each training request.

    7. Some Regional Personnel Offices have set forth regional policy on the handling and selection of trainees for training courses and details. In those instances where such policies exist, any conflicts between the policy and this FMD should be resolved by following the Regional Personnel Offices's policy.


  1. Selections for training should be in compliance with merit promotion and EEO principles.
    1. Some Regions, District Offices, Regional Laboratories, and other offices/staffs have standard operating procedures (SOP) in respect to the selection of employees for training. These SOP's should be in consonance with the FMD.
  2. Selection criteria for training should include consideration of:
    1. The FDA mission and program work
    2. Extent to which the employee's knowledge, skills, or performance on his/her present position will be enhanced by the training
    3. Employee's potential for advancement
    4. Employee's career development needs
    5. Ability of employee to instruct others in learned skills after completion of training
    6. Employee's own interest in and efforts to improve his/her work (self-development)
    7. Workload
    8. Availability of funds
    9. Degree to which employee meets stated criteria for attending training if the course is ORA nationally-sponsored
    10. Prior training opportunities afforded to the employee.
  3. Management may determine that certain personnel must receive specific training to adequately perform their job. Under these circumstances, management may direct that the training take place and the employee must attend. This training may also be on-the-job assignments in lieu of attendance at a formal course.
  4. Management must also consider as priorities: training needed for new hires, reassignment of employees to other occupations (particularly at lower grade levels where employees move into bridge positions), Administration, OPM, Department, or agency-mandated training.
  5. Slots at nationally sponsored training courses will be allocated on a Regional basis. Recommendations for selection will be made by first-line supervisors. Regional Food and Drug Directors currently make the final selection of participants from their Regions.
  6. Selection for ORA nationally-sponsored courses will be made when the course announcement providing slot allocations is received.


  1. A form HHS-350, "Training Nomination and Authorization" must be completed for all training of eight (8) hours or more, before the employee attends the course.
  2. Training of more than 80 hours must be authorized by FDA's Division of Personnel Management through the Director, Education and Training Branch, HFC-62.
    1. Staff Manual Guide FDA 3120.4 stipulates that the HHS-350 must be received by the authorizing official at least 15 working days prior to the starting date of the course .
    2. In some Regions, the Regional Personnel Office must also authorize training of over 80 hours. Affected Regions/Districts must have the HHS-350 signed first by the Regional Personnel Office. The HHS-350 will then be submitted to HFC-62 for appropriate headquarters' authorization.
    3. All authorization and approvals must be made before the training begins.
  3. Copy 5 (Completion and Evaluation Copy) should be forwarded to the Education and Training Branch, HFC-62, when completed on both sides, for the following courses:
    1. ORA Nationally-Sponsored (funded) courses, e.g., Basic Food and Drug Law, Industrial Sterilization.
    2. Special Programs, e.g., OPM Executive Seminar courses, Long Term Training, etc.
  4. Please do not forward any copies of the HHS-350 to the Education and Training Branch, HFC-62, for training which is funded at the local level, e.g., a District or Field Office.

FDA 1599 - No Longer Needed

Form FDA 1599, Training Evaluation is no longer used for ORA, Nationally-Sponsored courses. Do not send copies to HFC-62.


  1. For most ORA nationally funded courses, EMS' issued by HFC-62 announcing the course will contain specific instructions regarding:
    1. Completion and non-routine handling of HHS-350's
    2. Funding and reporting codes
    3. Site, facilities, accommodations, transportation, and any special instructions and/or information.
    4. Starting and closing times for course.
  2. All course participants should be provided with a copy of the course announcement and should follow the instructions contained in that course announcement.
  3. Consult Staff Manual Guide FDA 1432.1 AND 1432.2 for information on officials who may approve and authorize training. HHS-410 TN 79.15 also contains important information regarding management of training.


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