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Poor Project Management Can Cost Government $148 Million, Says PMI Survey

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Fri Jun 14 2013

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Program failure in government can have dire consequences. Aside from the highly visible nature of mismanaged public programs, failure results in wasted taxpayer dollars in a political and economic climate that requires scrutiny on every dollar spent. A new study released from Project Management Institute (PMI) found that government organizations risk $148 million for every $1 billion dollars spent. This is $13 million more than the general survey findings—demonstrating that government lags behind private industry in key success areas that point a way forward for effectively managing programs.

PMI President and CEO Mark A. Langley announced these and other findings from the 2013 Pulse of the Profession™ at a meeting of the Government Efficiency Caucus, chaired by Rep. Todd Young (R-IN) and Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT). Other featured speakers included Dr. Paul Light, Wagner’s Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service, New York University, and Mr. Richard Garrison, Vice Chancellor, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Acquisition Academy.

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“There are pockets of excellence in the federal government that are already using strong program management practices, and are seeing positive results,” said Langley.  “It is essential to continue nurturing a program management culture government-wide.  Establishing a job classification agency or government-wide for program managers, and ensuring a career path—two relatively simple steps—can help government complete programs more successfully, use taxpayer dollars more efficiently, and deliver more value for their constituents.”

According to the Pulse, despite a strong link between dollars at risk and program management, just 46 percent of government organizations understand the value of program management. Additionally, program success rates are declining, with just under two-thirds of programs meeting their original goals or intent, a significant decline since 2010.

The study shows that both government and the private sector have work to do in effectively aligning program management with organizational strategy and mission. More than half of the government respondents (52 percent) acknowledged that they frequently focus on their specific departmental performance objectives as opposed to the strategic goals of the organization or agency (significantly higher than the 43 percent reported in the global average).

The study also found that the role of program management in government is not reaching the level of executive visibility seen in the global average. Only 11 percent of government organizations have a senior-level program management related role— a critical component of high-performing organizations—compared to 22 percent in the global average. 

Only 37 percent of government respondents reported that their organization currently has a formal process for developing program management competency and only 25 percent reported having a defined career path for those engaged in project and program management—a full 17 percentage points lower than the global average.

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Aligning with overall organizational strategy and understanding what it takes to become a high performer—completing 80 percent or more of projects on time, on budget and within goals—can improve an organization's outcomes.

To access PMI’s _Pulse of the Profession_™ please visit www.pmi.org/pulse.

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