Improving Program Management in the Federal Government

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A White Paper by a Panel of the


sponsored by the Project Management Institute

Improving Program Management in the Federal Government

October 2011

July 2015 National Academy of Public Administration ?


The National Academy of Public Administration is an independent, non-profit, and non-partisan organization established in 1967 and chartered by Congress in 1984. It provides expert advice to government leaders in building more effective, efficient, accountable, and transparent organizations. To carry out this mission, the Academy draws on the knowledge and experience of its over 800 Fellows-- including former cabinet officers, Members of Congress, governors, mayors, and state legislators, as well as prominent scholars, business executives, and public administrators. The Academy helps public institutions address their most critical governance and management challenges through in-depth studies and analyses, advisory services and technical assistance, Congressional testimony, forums and conferences, and online stakeholder engagement. Learn more about the Academy and its work at .

A White Paper by a Panel of the


sponsored by the Project Management Institute July 2015

Improving Program Management in the Federal Government

PANEL Peter Marshall* Chair

Dan Chenok* Joseph Wholey*

* Academy Fellow 1

Officers of the Academy Robert J. Shea, Chair of the Board

Nancy R. Kingsbury, Vice Chair Dan G. Blair, President and Chief Executive Officer

B. J. Reed, Secretary Sallyanne Harper, Treasurer

Study Team Joseph P. Mitchell, III, Director of Project Development

Roger Kodat, Project Director Jonathan Tucker, Senior Research Analyst

The views expressed in this report are those of the Panel. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the Academy as an institution. National Academy of Public Administration 1600 K Street, N.W. Suite 400 Washington, DC 20006 July 2015 Printed in the United States of America Academy Project Number: 2249



At the start of each new Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) publishes a High-Risk List documenting issues and programs requiring additional attention due to their greater vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement or the need for transformation to address economy, efficiency, or effectiveness challenges. Many of the 32 High-Risk areas highlighted by GAO in 2015 are associated with the federal government's program and project management challenges, such as business transformation at the U.S. Department of Defense, managing risks and improving healthcare at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the management of oil and gas revenues.

Given the proliferation of important transformational initiatives in the federal space, as well as the increasing challenges associated with uncertain budgetary resources, increasing workloads, and a rapidly changing 21st century operating environment, the Legislative and Executive branches are paying more attention to the decades-old discipline of program management. The private sector has adopted many of the discipline's integrated and timetested set of skills to enhance management of large-scale, complex change initiatives encompassing people, processes, and technology. Program management tools are available now, and, in some cases, are already successfully employed by some federal agencies.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) requested the National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy) to prepare a white paper to spotlight high-level challenges and opportunities to enhance and institutionalize this discipline in the federal sector. By enhancing program management, agencies may increase the efficiency of federal programs and projects, and save taxpayer funds, as well as address the High-Risk List areas, many of which have been on the list for several years.

As a congressionally chartered non-partisan and non-profit organization with over 800 distinguished Fellows, the Academy brings seasoned experts together to help public organizations address future challenges. We are pleased to have had the opportunity to assist PMI by preparing this paper. I appreciate the active engagement of PMI's leadership and others who provided important insight and context needed to inform this work. Also, I thank the members of the Academy Panel, who provided invaluable expertise and thoughtful analysis to this undertaking, and the professional study team that provided critical support to the Panel.

As we approach the upcoming 2016 Presidential transition, this white paper should help inform a new Administration and contribute to future Executive and Legislative Branch efforts to elevate the importance of developing program management as an essential skill set for 21st century federal agency operations.

Dan G. Blair President and C.E.O.



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