To say that the different branches of the United States armed forces have had their hands full lately is an understatement, but it is true nonetheless, and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is a prime example. Yet, despite the group’s day-to-day workload, CBP’s Office of Training and Development has taken on the additional task of creating its Factory Floor system for learning – realigning its offerings to not only meet the demands of the agency, it has established a new system to design, deliver, and develop the agency’s training for about 40,000 CBP employees in more than 300 locations nationwide and abroad.
The Office of Training and Development is responsible for the centralized leadership and direction of all CBP training programs. The office also establishes standards and policies for the design, development, delivery and evaluation of training.
Its core responsibilities are to provide basic and advanced training to all occupations, as well as career development and management and executive development programs.
“We also develop and implement an annual training plan for any new and ongoing training in addition to collecting data for our difference CBP training programs,” said Jeffrey Fuller, director of the training production and standards division. “We report a lot on our numbers to various committees, number of people trained, number of hours trained per year, etc., along those lines.”
The office has 10 divisions, including five specialized units at its headquarters in Washington, D.C.: training production and standards, leadership and workforce development, use-of-force policy training, mission support and the border security training division.
Training can involve anything from hands-on defensive tactics and physical training to firearms and a classroom session, outlining the finer points of the law.
The other five divisions are schoolhouses or academies, including the Office of Field Operations, the U.S. Border Patrol, a national K-9 enforcement training center and the new Harpers Ferry Advanced Tactics Center.
“We have a pretty broad mission for a very large agency,” Fuller said. “The new program is based on the Factory Floor concept of training and development that centralizes development and coordinates the delivery of training products in a more streamlined fashion. As you can imagine, with the different things that are in the media now with the immigration-reform act, the border patrol training is probably the biggest thing that we’re doing right now.
“Before the Department of Homeland Security merger in 2003, we were the U.S. Customs Service, which was about 19,000 personnel. After the merger, we went to 40,000, so our agency basically doubled in size. Our mission also changed to reflect the new anti-terrorism training and mission – our training had to reflect that type of change, and anti-terrorism is reflected in all of our training, whether it’s basic or advanced.”
The office also has adopted a more blended training approach to more easily accommodate delivery of CBP’s several hundred different types of training programs.
The approach includes Web-based classrooms with practical exercises, videos, job aides and on-the-job training. This, Fuller said, will more easily meet the needs of the CBP’s customers.
“The Web-based training that we provide through our learning management system allows us to provide online training through our field component rather than coming into a traditional classroom, which works well for them,” Fuller said. “A lot of it is self-paced, so they can take the training, and if something happens and they need to sign off, they can sign back into where they left off. Things work better that way.
“Given what goes on now with border security, we obviously have a very extensive mission – we tailor and develop our training toward that. It’s very busy times for us at Customs Border Protection, extremely high visibility and high-profile as well. But I think from an agency standpoint and from the office of training and development standpoint, we’ve realigned ourselves to undertake such a large mission.”