Professional development and training

This post provides information about mandatory (OLU) and professional development training opportunities.


Pia Scott is TTS’s Director of Training and Development. She is based in Washington, D.C.

Marshall Brown assists with the review of training and conference requests when Pia is out of the office.


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Book time to chat with the training and development team during the office hours listed here

There are many training and professional development opportunities available to you: You can take a course, attend a workshop, and leverage on-the-job training. Here’s an overview.

Mandatory training

All General Services Administration (GSA) employees are required to take mandatory training courses through the GSA’s Online Learning University (OLU) which provide critical information about how we work in the federal space.

For more information, including required OLU classes, reference the OLU page.

Professional development training

Our work at TTS takes us in new directions every day. In many cases, taking additional training can help everyone on our team better realize our organizational mission. Because external trainings benefit both individuals and our organization, 18F has a training budget.

If you’re interested in taking a training related to your role at TTS, you’ll need to complete the process outlined in this section to get your request approved. When you find a training opportunity that interests you:

1. Make your request

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2. Create your Individual Development Plan (IDP)

Employee’s Guide to Individual Development Plan

After you’ve made your request, you’ll need to create an IDP related to the training or conference that you want to attend. The IDP helps you articulate how a given training contributes to your longer-term professional goals. Create it in Salesforce. See the GSA Guide to IDPs for policy information.

To get some IDP inspiration, you can browse some examples from your TTS colleagues, including the approved IDPs of Leah Bannon and Emileigh Barnes for General Assembly classes. Gray’s TL;DR on IDPs is well worth a look.

Here are a few hints for creating a top-notch IDP:

  • How to Successfully Create an IDP Presentation
  • In the Series field, select 0301 - Miscellaneous Administration and Program Services.
  • Leave the Procurement specialization field blank unless you are on the operations or acquisitions team and have taken or are pursuing a training in a procurement specialization.
  • As you’re writing about your long- and short-term goals, include a few sentences about what the training is about and how it connects to your work at GSA/TTS as well as a few sentences about how it will contribute to your overall professional development.
  • Add a related objective, an activity (this is where you list the name of the conference/training you want to attend), and a competency.

Once you’ve completed your IDP, submit to your supervisor for review.

If you need to edit your IDP, you’ll want to make sure to clone it, revise it, and place it in “resubmit status.”

3. Meet with your supervisor

Supervisor’s Guide to Individual Development Planning

Once you’ve submitted your IDP, you’ll meet with your supervisor to discuss it. Your supervisor will want to make sure your IDP aligns with TTS’s organizational goals and your professional development training needs. Once you’ve responded to any feedback your supervisor has provided, ask them to approve your IDP in Salesforce.

TTS’s training and travel budget is allocated for each fiscal year based on a projection of our total team size. Allowed annual expenditures for each business unit and chapter are determined by each business unit or chapter’s size relative to TTS as a whole; in other words, larger business units will have larger budgets.

That said, TTS will consider all requests for training, but it’s the responsibility of heads of chapters and business units to plan spending accordingly. If a particular business unit or chapter exhausts its budget before the end of the fiscal year, the director of operations may have to deny certain training requests.

4. Submit an event request in C2

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5. Resolve any red flags and finalize all approvals

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6. Attend your training

And now, the fun part: It’s time for you to attend your conference or training! Once you get back, share what you’ve learned with your teammates. Consider leading a Learn Teach Learn session or a brown bag. You might also draft a blog post to share your learnings with a broader audience.

Speaking at conferences

If you’re interested in speaking at an event — even if you’re doing so in your personal capacity — please follow this guide.


Mentorship at TTS is available, currently we are running a pilot program for folks, who got it started. If you would like to learn more and/or participate, please see the Mentorship page for more details!

Self-directed study for engineers

Engineering Chapter members: Would you like to pursue a self-directed training option? Would you like to teach yourself a new programming language, read the latest book on software development ideology, or take an online course? You totally can! Please include the request as part of your Individual Development Plan (IDP). If there is any type of cost associated with your training, you will need to also submit a supervisor-approved (i.e., signed) Standard Form 182. Once you’ve submitted your IDP your Supervisor will usually approve the request within 72 hours, and you will be good to go! Please coordinate with your project to carve out the time, and with your Supervisor to determine the duration, goals, and success markers of self-directed study. Please talk with your Facilitator or Supervisor with any questions, comments, or concerns.

Self-directed study for designers

Experience Design Chapter members: You can use some or all of your yearly training time for independent study. To do this, you should:

  • Work with your lead to define an independent study in your Individual Development Plan (IDP) that includes your desired measurable outcomes for your studies.
  • Tock your time to 71 - Training / Prof Dev - Non Billable with a note in the description field. Example note: “I used 4 hours of my yearly training time towards my independent study in JavaScript.”

If you’ve Tock’d 32 hours to your assigned project, you can use the remaining 8 hours for whatever else needs to get done at TTS, including training, without using your yearly assigned training hours. To use some of this 8 hours for training, you should:

  • Work with your lead to define an independent study in your Individual Development Plan (IDP) that includes your desired measurable outcomes for your studies.
  • Tock your time to 71 - Training / Prof Dev - Non Billable with a note in the description field. Example note: “After completing my project work, I used 2 hours of my remaining time this week toward my independent study in JavaScript.”
  • Consider putting co-work time on the calendar at a few hours a week with a colleague or group of colleagues, even if you’re not working on exactly the same skill.

Remember, this all only holds true if you’ve Tock’d at least 32 hours to your assigned project. If you’d like to use some of that ‘32 hours’ time for training (for example, to go to an all-day conference, or go heads-down for a few days working on your independent study), you have up to 4 days of time per fiscal year toward this.

And finally, there are a a few weekly tasks that should come before training: design huddle, your discipline’s huddle, critique group, and required GSA trainings (OLU). After those, you have flexibility in how you spend your time. Options include: guild work, independent study as per this guidance, and other internal projects.

Other training resources

As a TTS team member, you have access to additional online training resources.

  • GSA’s Online University (OLU) offers training, and many of its courses are mandatory for new employees.

  • DigitalGov University holds webinars and in-person events about all things digital government. See the DigitalGov calendar of events and video library for more information.

  • Safari Books Online provides online access to 30,000 books and videos about programming, UX design, leadership, project management, content strategy, agile development, and more. To request access, see Software.

  • GSA offers free, individual coaching for employees. Any of us can tap them any time, at no cost. The coaches are all certified by the International Federation of Coaches. They aim to help with more or less any workplace challenges you face–managing your manager; dealing with a colleague whose communication style is very different from yours; positioning yourself for a different kind of work within the agency; balancing urgent vs important requests; etc. Some of the coaches also specialize in leadership and executive issues. For more details, please contact Nicole O’Brien in GSA Office of Human Resources Management.