2020 TOC Distinguished Service Award Winners

The TOC Distinguished Service Awards Program was launched by the Training Officers Consortium in 1955 to stimulate improved government-sponsored training programs through recognition of individuals making significant contributions to the Federal training community in the field of human resource development (training, education, and career development).


VIEW THE RECORDED CEREMONY (with presentations from each awardee)


Leadership Development Award

College of Leadership & Team Development

Program: Preparing an Agency to Lead and Manage Well in a Virtual Environment


The College of Leadership & Team Development-CLTD greatly enhanced SEC capabilities by instantly transforming its Leadership Development program to 100% virtual classes to swiftly meet a critical need to manage work virtually. Scuttling planned training, CLTD initiated a virtual class, managing in a Virtual Environment, just 10 days after mandatory telework began. Within a month, 551 staff attended 6 classes, including 36% of all SEC supervisors. Training included:

  • A new team building class
  • Increased SkillSoft online resources (courses, books, articles & videos)
  • Converting the entire Aspiring Leaders Program to all virtual sessions
  • Creating small group coaching sessions for supervisors managing teams virtually
  • 6 new courses

CLTD anticipated SEC manager/employee needs during transition to virtual work, focusing on issues such as how to productively telework full-time and helping teams communicate/collaborate when teleworking. CLTD quickly converted class delivery to 100% virtual classes starting in March, though July 2020 (from 19% during this period in 2019), and refocused program content on the greatest immediate need – preparing staff to work productively and sustain morale while teleworking. They introduced 6 courses on working in the virtual environment with 21 offerings. Staff leapt at the chance to enhance skills to work/manage in the virtual office – 1,434 staff participated in CLTD offerings Mar-Jul 2020 (a 69% increase over participation from Mar-Jul 2019).

In a recent survey of supervisors by SEC’s Office of Human Resources, 95% of respondents who participated in Manager-Only Training related to Full-Time Telework found it useful. When asked “How would you describe the amount of information and guidance you are receiving about managing your staff during COVID-19?” 87% indicated they were getting exactly as much or more than needed, 65% indicated their experience improved since they first started full-time telework, and the majority of supervisors saw increased effectiveness of their own work, as well as their staff’s.

Feedback included, “The training was awesome! There was an abundance of useful information, tools and techniques shared” and “Every moment of this class was valuable.”

Leadership Development Award

Workforce Services and Development

Program: Supervisor Symposium


The Supervisor Symposium, held twice annually, develops supervisors’ practical expertise through interactive and relevant sessions. The Symposium leverages the skills and knowledge of DISA’s Master Trainers and subject matter experts facilitating over 20 engaging sessions on-site and virtually. Supervisors plan their training day(s) based on individual needs and select from topics such as psychologically safe work environments, self-awareness, feedback, awarding employees, 5 Languages of Appreciation, leadership panels, mentoring and coaching sessions and panels, one-on-one with ICF coaches, hiring and manning documents, managing a virtual workforce, generation gaps, Human resources panel, Communication, critical conversations and more.

The 2018 FEVS data, and research conducted by the team emphasized the need to improve supervisory development. Benchmark research confirmed the Supervisor Symposium is the first of its kind and its development was the first step in impacting the agency’s supervisors. Since its development in 2018, the FEVS scores for DISA’s has improved and continues to improve, we have held four symposiums since.

The program is cost effective and invaluable. We leverage our passionate Master Trainers and SMEs as well as cultivating existing networks and relationships, such as with the Naval Academy’s Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership, to provide unique and lasting impacts on our supervisors.

Each successive Symposium improves in quality and attendance as demand increases. The sessions held onsite and virtually, impact our agency’s units across the globe, despite the pandemic. The team works across multiple organizations providing a high-quality service inclusive to everyone. The July symposium included 23 virtual sessions over the course of two weeks and included six one-on-one coaching sessions, filling 720 virtual seats.

This experience enhances supervisory leadership skills and builds a Community of Practice, arming supervisors with more knowledge to be more proactive in the leadership and development of their team, thus strengthening the bond between supervisor and individual contributor. The Supervisor Symposium is a model for other federal agencies to follow.

Innovation Award

Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy (VAAA)

Program: VAAA Acquisition Internship School Mini-Missions


Two years ago, a significant skills gap was identified with the technical skill of developing acquisition documents within the Electronic Contract Management System (eCMS) software application. It is imperative that interns know how to develop acquisition documents in eCMS because most of their job is spent in the application. To address this gap, the Acquisition Internship School (AIS) developed “mini-missions” that allow the learner to apply new learning immediately by solving small problems over time, one at a time. Mini-missions are 60-minute, self-guided activities, each focusing on developing one acquisition document in eCMS. They provide the education, exposure, and experience with the acquisition documents developed in eCMS.

Before the implementation of mini-missions, 0% of learners were able to independently complete the capstone experience at the end of the first classroom training block. After the implementation, the completion rate increased to 95%. After the first on-the-job training, the performance of the interns has improved over time when comparing earlier cohort capabilities with the software. Each mini-mission is designed to help the learner close a skill gap by following a simple three-step process:

First, they Discover – Each mini-mission begins with a detailed job aid that explains how to develop the acquisition document in eCMS, and accomplish the mission, step by step. They discover (acquire) the knowledge, skills, and abilities required.

Next, they Do – I don’t know about you, but until I’m giving a chance to practice, to apply what I’ve learned, I can never be sure if I’ve learned how to do something. Also, I lack the confidence I need to actively do. That’s why this “do” step is so important. The mission is presented as an authentic VA scenario. So not only do they discover what they need to know, but they also get to apply it in an authentic VA scenario.

And the last step is to Reflect – This is the opportunity to look back at what they discovered, and then performed in the mini- mission. Often, this is where best practices are solidified.

Learning Measurement and Analytics Award

Decennial Data Collection Training Branch

Program: U.S. Census Decennial Training Evaluation Program


Jay Occhiogrosso and Nelson Er of the Decennial Data Collection Training Branch implemented a robust multi-level Training Evaluation Program for the 2020 Census Employee Onboarding Program. The task was enormous: to prepare several hundred thousand temporary employees to be successful in the accurate collection of 2020 Census data. The Training Evaluation Program provided the ability to gain insights from all phases of training and showed the effectiveness of using multiple delivery methods, including online, instructor-led, and follow-up coached observations to ensure the success of the full workforce for the areas of Address Canvassing, Update Leave, and Non-Response follow-up enumeration.

In 2016, the Decennial Data Collection Training Branch, under the guidance of Jay Occhiogrosso and Nelson Er, was charged with creating an effective training program to ensure a successful 2020 Census. In the years leading up to 2020, they conducted and tested a series of training initiatives to improve and confirm sound operations. They employed the expertise of PTG International to collaborate on the planning, design, implementation, and reporting of training evaluation results, following best practices of robust data collection and analysis and evaluating at multiple levels to show impact.

Evaluation plans included collecting quantitative and qualitative training reactions, assessments, behaviors, and coached observation data for over 400,000 temporary employees hired to confirm and update addresses. Marrying this data to operational performance data of these employees and their supervisors provided the Census Bureau with valuable insights, such as:

  • Increasing the rigor of technical testing resulted in a 30% increase in participants experiencing glitch-free online training during the 2020 Address Canvassing training operation.
  • Coached observations increased performance by 8 to 20% for three KPIs in workers observed during the 2018 test.

As an overall result, the Census Bureau was able to roll out effective training to a massive number of new Census workers, enabling a successful Decennial Census program, even in the midst of a challenging pandemic. 

Learning Measurement and Analytics Award

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Program: OCC Agency-wide IDP Dashboard


Individual Development Plans (IDP) at the OCC are now accessible through the agency’s IDP Dashboard (DB) which provides leaders with aggregated data that support the career development of the employees reporting to them. The IDP DB is much more than a simple repository of IDP forms; it summarizes data to provide leaders with an overview of the strengths, growth areas, competencies, leadership aspirations, willingness to relocate, and goals for all employees they lead. Managers can use this data to guide and enrich their career development conversations with employees at the agency and beyond. The main impact of the DB is that it allows leaders to focus their attention on analyzing employee’s information versus searching for and organizing it.

Since implementing the IDP DB, OCC experienced a 11% increase in IDP submissions.

  • The DB provides quick access, aggregated information, and side-by-side looks to enable managers to spend more time on meaningful career development conversations with employees and less time on gathering up forms, reformatting data, and time consuming, unassisted analysis. Here is an unprompted testimonial from an OCC manager: “Outstanding job on this DB. Very helpful information! This is a rough estimate, but I think this might save me at least 2 hours a year finding and preparing for IDP discussions with staff. The quality of my discussions will also be better because of how the information is presented.”
  • The DB is the 28th most viewed out of 1902 OCC dashboards, placing it in the top 1.5% most used. This is significant as many of the top used OCC DBs have been in place for many years.
  • The IDP DB promotes data-driven decision-making.
  • We are now able to quickly identify common learning needs to bring courses “in-house,” which is more cost-effective than sending employees off-site. With the DB, this analysis can now be done at the business-unit or manager level rather than having to coordinate with the IDP program office.

Tracking the number of planned development hours via the DB provides evidence that employees are meeting OCC’s required 40 hours of professional development per year.

Training Design and Development Award

Veterans Employment Training Service (VETS)
Program: National Veterans’ Training Institute (NVTI) Core Curriculum Development


National Veterans’ Training Institute (NVTI) overhauled its mandated curriculum as well as technological infrastructure prior to support the provision of classes and evaluations, assessments, registrations, and student transportation and lodging for thousands of students. NVTI performed in-depth job analysis activities to understand the skills required by the veteran service providers. The team used this data to maximize student time, increase capacity to train more students, and save taxpayer dollars by ensuring minimum travel with maximum engagement. In response to COVID-19, NVTI virtualized its entire portfolio of courses for online delivery to play its part in ensuring the continuity of veterans’ services.

The Department of Labor (DOL), Veterans Employment and Training Services (VETS), National Veterans’ Training Institute (NVTI) overhauled its legislatively mandated curriculum and the technological infrastructure that supports the curriculum and provides the backbone for evaluations, assessments, registrations, and student transportation and lodging for over 3,200 individuals yearly.

The NVTI team performed an in-depth job analysis activity to determine the skills and abilities required by the veterans’ service providers. This data informed the project team’s recommendations for the NVTI curriculum. The curriculum was developed to maximize student time, increase capacity to train more students, and save taxpayer dollars by ensuring minimum travel with maximum engagement, retention, and support. Advancements included the institution of a CRM system to track, report on, and troubleshoot end-user data as well as integrate with an LMS to provide online and blended development opportunities and transcript access.

NVTI also initiated a series of push-content initiatives including regular webinars to communicate critical agency messaging, an LMS-hosted community of practice for best-practice sharing, and a digital newsletter covering information critical to stakeholder success. NVTI redesigned and improved its website in 2020 and, in response to COVID-19, NVTI virtualized its entire portfolio of courses for online deliver to ensure continuity of veterans’ services.

Spencer Logan Leadership Award

Special Recognition Awards