Last Thursday evening I attended a dinner meeting of the PMI Baltimore Chapter in Frederick, MD. The Tysons Corner, Va. PMI-DC Chapter meetings attract a larger attendance, but I found the small group setting also very worthwhile. The speaker was excellent and very relevant to my own work as a SharePoint Governance Consultant in the public sector.
Some of the PMI/Baltimore Chapter's future meetings (at various venues around the D.C. area) also look interesting, esp. the September 16 presentation on an IT project for Cairo International Airport (since I was a Project Officer with USAID/Cairo in the late 90s, I am sure I will be able to relate to the speaker's experience!).
Getting back to last Wednesday's presentation, Jonathan Weinstein, an independent project management consultant, gave an insightful talk on Government and Project Management, based on both his experience and recent book, Achieving Project Management Success in the Federal Government. He organized his talk around three areas: policy, practice and performance.
Here are my key take-aways from his presentation, which focused mostly on project management (PM) in the federal sector:
General policy trends:
- Project management (and related PMI standards such as the PMP certification) is becoming more and more important in the federal government (N.B. influence of the private sector);
- Recent PM emphasis by Presidents Bush and Obama builds on prior federal regulation such as GIPRA and the CFO Act, and their push for greater public sector efficiency, transparency and standardization;
- Last June OMB released new PM reform guidance, e.g. requiring re-baselining of poorly planned projects over $20 MM (this memo was specific to financial management system projects);
- The stimulus program has spurred larger projects and opportunities for PM (e.g. DOE), yet most of the Recovery Act funds and project management was appropriately left to management by the states, along with tracking and reporting to the feds.
- PM vs. acquisition can at times be competing disciplines in their approach to managing federal activities and expeditures - ideal situation for both parties to work together early on;
- Driver for improved PM in government: quote from Congressman, "mediocrity is expensive."
- Some interesting links illustrating current federal initiatives and public debate around need for better PM include IT Dashboard, Open Government Initiative and Expectmore.gov.
Best practice examples:
- Value of structure, formal initation processes, integrated baseline reviews.
- Once Department was taught best practice by internal contractors, units realized value and replicated workshops themselves
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC):
- Effective IT governance, transparency, involvement of both management and staff
Energy Department (DOE), Office of Environmental Management:
- Integrated government and contractor teams;
- Methodologies such as earned value analysis impacted decision-making for long-term (10 years) and costly (billions) projects;
- Improvement from 50% of their projects on track to 90%!
General Services Administration (GSA):
- Structured risk analysis, consistency of PM execution across geographically dispersed units;
- Innovated "risk breakdown structure" - similar to "work breakdown structure."
National Aeorautics and Space Administration (NASA):
- Clear vision
- Excellence in knowledge managment, never repeat past mistakes, APPEL program
- Involvement of leadership and loyalty of PM staff as keys to sucess
General Accounting Office (GAO):
Federal Acquisition Institute: