Hierarchical organizations, especially in government agencies, are known by their pyramidal structures and continuous training needs resulting from promotions and/or assignments. Using scientific and rational methods in the job analysis/description, recruitment/selection, assignment, performance appraisal and career planning functions of human resource management (HRM) process decreases training costs. In this study, we develop a new chain of methodologies (the cost-effective course planning model (CECPM)) to decrease training costs and increase the level of specialization. This methodology is implemented in the following steps of the HRM process: (1) the job analysis/description step, where our Mission Description Matrix defines in measurable units the amount of training needed for an employee assigned to a position, (2) the career matrix step, where the minimum training costs for an employee's career path are determined using our network-flow model and (3) the assignment step, where we propose a decision support system composed of an analytical hierarchy process, linear programming and Pareto optimality analysis. The results indicate that our proposed system ensures minimum training needs while satisfying person-to-position compatibility and personnel's preferences. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.