PMA Learning Agenda
Help the Federal Government answer critical research questions
The PMA Learning Agenda aims to:
- Reinforce a focus on learning. A learning agenda is not about delivering a thumbs up or down on a program for compliance monitoring. It can spur research that identifies which approaches work, why, and for whom, so those lessons can be applied across contexts to improve outcomes.
- Bridge silos. Many of the most pressing issues do not fit neatly within the boundaries of a single agency. This PMA Learning Agenda provides an opportunity to coordinate learning and evidence building across agencies.
- Catalyze innovation beyond the Federal Government. Many researchers, practitioners, and State, Tribal, Territorial, and local leaders across the country are piloting and testing innovations and generating evidence to better serve their communities. Clearly communicating a PMA Learning Agenda with key management questions can catalyze coordinated innovation with research institutions, and within and across agencies in the Federal Government, and State, Tribal, Territorial, and local.
Want to know more?
- Sign up for updates.
- View agency learning agendas at Evaluation.gov
This project is a collaboration between government and the public – if you have research to submit, questions, comments, or feedback, send an email to our team at PMALearningAgenda@omb.eop.gov
Learning Areas of Focus
How can the Federal Government strengthen and empower its workforce, so it can best serve the American people?
- What approaches to recruitment and hiring result in high-performing, diverse teams in Federal agencies?
- What strategies improve retention, engagement, inclusion, belonging, and wellbeing among Federal employees, while reducing burnout and attrition?
- What approaches build a strong, empowered, and diverse cohort across the Federal Government employee lifecycle?
What approaches to recruitment and hiring result in high-performing, diverse teams in Federal agencies?
- What hiring assessments and practices effectively identify qualified talent, especially in high-need career series? What approaches result in a positive applicant experience, either leading to acceptance of a position, or willingness for a qualified (but not-selected) candidate to apply for other opportunities? To what extent can alternative hiring mechanisms improve the recruitment of skilled professionals while reducing the time to hire? Do these approaches lead to more or less equitable hiring outcomes?
- To what extent, and through what mechanisms (for example, USAJobs and other application forms and processes, interview questions and format, time to wait for response or decision), might specific requirements (including security clearances) impact Federal recruitment of a diverse, inclusive workforce?
- What barriers to entry into Federal service currently exist for potential Federal employees? How do these barriers vary across demographic populations?
- How can the Federal Government organize work, workplaces, and workforces to create a competitive advantage for recruitment and retention? What workplace flexibilities and strategies, including those related to pay and benefits, promote equity, diversity, inclusion, engagement, and performance?
What strategies improve retention, engagement, inclusion, belonging, and wellbeing among Federal employees, while reducing burnout and attrition?
- How can the Federal Government be nimbler in understanding the Federal employee experience? What information do agency leaders need to improve employee engagement and retention? How can lessons from customer experience initiatives inform improvements to the Federal employee experience?
- Which inclusion and belonging interventions reduce burnout and improve wellbeing and retention, and under what circumstances?
- What management practices advance disability inclusion and empower Federal employees with disabilities? What management practices advance inclusion and empowerment of other underrepresented Federal employees?
What approaches build a strong, empowered, and diverse cohort across the Federal Government employee lifecycle?
- What management strategies (e.g., delegating authorities, rewarding innovative risk) can better empower Federal employees to innovate and solve problems? Which management strategies improve agency and unit-level organizational health? Which strategies and approaches are less effective?
- What strategies are effective in boosting career growth (including rotations, fellowship programs, mentorship programs, and paid internships)? What approaches to upskilling and reskilling are effective for retention? Which of these strategies effectively strengthen a diverse cohort in senior leadership positions and civil service leadership pipelines? Which strategies and approaches are less effective?
How can the Federal Government deliver programs and services effectively and build trust?
- How can Federal agencies reduce administrative burdens in programs and services—including complicated, confusing, and time-consuming processes people may encounter when trying to access those programs and services?
- What approaches deliver an excellent customer experience with the Federal Government?
- How can the Federal Government enhance the public’s trust?
How can Federal agencies reduce administrative burdens in programs and services—including complicated, confusing, and time-consuming processes people may encounter when trying to access those programs and services?
- What approaches effectively reduce unnecessary administrative burdens for people, especially those that disproportionately affect underserved communities? What approaches are effective in reducing burden consistently across different populations?
- How can minimizing administrative burdens also improve upon objectives of minimizing improper payments and strengthening program integrity?
What approaches deliver an excellent customer experience with the Federal Government?
- What mechanisms for integrated services across different levels of government, communities, and community organizations are effective for reducing the burden on and improving outcomes for customers at specific significant moments in their lives? What kinds of collaboration between Federal agencies and their program delivery partners (e.g., State, local, Tribal, Territorial, nonprofit, and industry) contribute to improved equity and programmatic outcomes?
- How can Government services be more efficiently and effectively integrated and bundled to better deliver results for people?
- What strategies are effective to support individuals as they navigate complex Government processes? In what cases do people need individual support to navigate a complex Government process (e.g., a community navigator), and when can an automated or virtual process achieve a similar outcome?
How can the Federal Government enhance the public’s trust?
- What methods effectively measure trust in a public service environment? How and when can customer feedback on their trust in Government be most useful and accurate?
- How can agencies effectively share and use customer experience data and program results to promote trust with the public?
- How do various touch points between a person and Government services affect trust in Government? To what degree is trust affected by speed (e.g., short hold times for a phone call), transparency (e.g., open data with accessible dashboards), or knowledgeable service (e.g., staff with expertise to solve a problem)? In those contexts, how do different modes or styles of communication (e.g., live chat, in person, over the phone) affect trust? What types of choices in design and wording throughout service experiences promote inclusivity, and reduce stigma or other psychological barriers in program delivery?
- What communications strategies (language, channels, frequency) are effective for building trust? What type of transparency and accountability efforts have been effective at building trust? Who are these efforts currently reaching and who do they need to reach to be effective? Does transparency itself increase public trust?
How can the Federal Government advance equity and support underserved communities?
- How can equity be advanced in the design, delivery, and evaluation of Federal services?
- What organizational tools and management structures advance equity?
- What larger organizational changes in agencies are needed to identify and address underlying barriers to advancing equity?
How can equity be advanced in the design, delivery, and evaluation of Federal services?
- What approaches effectively improve equitable distribution of grants, loans, or other time-sensitive Federal funding and benefits programs from enacted laws (such as the CARES Act (Public Law 116-136), the American Rescue Plan Act (Public Law 117-2), the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Public Law 117-58), and related legislation) or in response to disasters, climate-related crises, or public health emergencies? What lessons were learned from the public health and economic crises of the pandemic that can inform the development of future Federal programs that are both responsive to a crisis and deliver equitable outcomes?
- What strategies effectively remove barriers to awareness of, access to, and delivery of Federal services, particularly for historically underserved individuals or populations?
- What characteristics of Government procurement, grants, or contracting structures make them effective for reaching underserved communities or businesses owned by historically excluded groups?
- What approaches to data collection and analysis could improve understanding about service utilization among underserved populations?
What organizational tools and management structures advance equity?
- What management structures, tools, or trainings for Government employees effectively improve equity outcomes in an agency’s operations and mission? Does changing decision-making structures to include equity-focused practices promote more equitable outcomes?
- What approaches to equity assessments result in Federal agencies improving equity in the outcomes of their work?
What larger organizational changes in agencies are needed to identify and address underlying barriers to advancing equity?
- If agencies engage with traditionally underrepresented stakeholders at the outset when key decisions are made, does that early engagement affect outcomes and intended impact (e.g., including those whom programs are meant to serve at an earlier stage in the design process or during the definition of eligibility criteria)?
- What are effective approaches that agencies can take in managing the business of Government to address barriers that have hindered equal opportunity?