The Center for Development of Security Excellence (CDSE), a directorate of the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA), is a Department of Defense (DoD) agency with the initiative to professionalize their security workforce. DCSA administers the CDSE Security Professional Education Development (SPēD) Certification Program, which ensures a common set of competencies among security practitioners. It promotes interoperability, facilitates professional development and training, and develops a workforce of certified security professionals. The SPēD Certification Program offers seven certifications and one credential track, each tailored to focus on a specialized aspect of security.
In an effort to streamline this process, CDSE DCSA engaged GP Strategies® to assist in designing and implementing a digital badging platform that would decrease the overall cost of the program, accelerate the certification process, and improve the user experience.
Cost reduction and improved user experience with digital badging
The legacy certification and badging system caused many administrative and user issues. The certification information lived in two systems, a Learning Management System (LMS) and a certification lifecycle management tool. This caused data transfer errors and complicated reporting to upper-level management. There was also a lot of candidate information that was not being captured, such as a candidate’s DoD agency affiliation, government status identifier, job series, job title, and supervisor information. The conferral process itself took a toll on manpower and expenses. The process took 90 days, 25 steps, and hours of manual labor from the administration, including verification of credentials, the printing of certificates, and mailing certifications and lapel pins to the candidates, before a candidate could receive their certification.
The ultimate goal in partnering with GP Strategies was to create a system that would be easy to use for both administration and users, minimize data errors, decrease cost, and accelerate the certification process.
The newly designed certification and digital badging program is a web-based solution branded as My SPēD Certification (MSC). All the data is centralized in MSC to create a single source of information and customized to capture more data and performance indicators that will be used for in-depth reporting. Using Credly’s Acclaim platform, candidates can manage their credentials, or badges, digitally rather than receiving hard copies of their certifications. This allows candidates to share these achievements within their networks, as well as track them on their Credly account.
With the streamlined processes, there is no administrative burden on DoD agencies. DoD agencies merely send the CDSE a candidate and then wait for the candidate to successfully take and pass the SPēD Certification Program assessment. Once the candidate has passed the assessment, the candidate receives their certificate and digital badge within 48 hours, instead of the previous 90-day waiting period.
By migrating all data to MSC and customizing the solution to enhance MSC functions and features, the SPēD Certification Program provides many benefits and improvements to the certification program, such as:
- Cost avoidance of $1.8 million by eliminating an LMS and customizing MSC to deliver both learning and digital credentialing
- Annual savings of $87,000 by automating certificate development, providing electronic badging, and eliminating labor effort and costs to process mailings
- Eliminating the administrative effort of the DoD involved in certificate delivery and lapel pin distribution
- Reducing the time it takes for a candidate to receive their certification after passing an assessment—from 90 days to 24-48 hours. This also reduces the amount of time a candidate has to wait before pursuing their next certification.
- Greening the certification process by eliminating paper-based certificates and alleviating the administrative processing and mailing burdens
- Saving taxpayers’ money by reducing costs and eliminating redundancies
- Enhancing external reporting capabilities for DoD stakeholders
By building the MSC to accomplish both credential management and assessment delivery, the DoD not only operates more efficiently but becomes more flexible and functional as the system decreases the number of external data transfers.
With the ability to increase the candidate conferral process, the CDSE is more equipped to strengthen the security workforce throughout the DoD. Candidates are now able to pursue additional certifications at a much faster pace. This new expedited process promotes Interoperability which enhances the development of all certified security professionals.Kevin Thompson, Management and Program Analyst, SPēD Certification Program Management Office (PMO)