Writing well is one of the most valued skills at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Senior leadership at CMS identified a need for better writing by policy analysts. Better writing would cut down on the number of reviews, thus speeding up clearance rates and improving efficiency. CMS wanted to find out exactly what the writing weaknesses were and develop a training program that would strengthen the needed skills. The training program would be useful to both new and experienced CMS employees.
We conducted a training needs assessment, interviewing five senior leaders by telephone and facilitating a focus group with current employees. Based on the findings, we developed a design guide with a preliminary outline. To gather course content, we held meetings with subject matter experts on writing regulations, program instructions, summary documents, and correspondence. GP Strategies™ designed and developed a course composed of nine modules: The first four sessions provided an orientation to CMS and an overview of its philosophy about effective writing. The additional five standalone sessions focused on specific kinds of writing: Correspondence, Program Instructions, Regulations, and Summary Documents. Materials included an Instructor Guide, Participant Guide, learning activities, and a Desk Reference Guide. This course has been well-received by CMS management and staff.