Nearly three years after being signed into law, the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act (PMIAA) exists to address an urgent need within the U.S. federal government.

In October 2019, PMI and the Partnership for Public Service hosted “Delivering on Your Mission: What PMIAA Means for Effective Execution,” a timely event focused on how the PMIAA can help improve federal project and program management capabilities and performance. With agencies and their program management improvement officers (PMIOs) tasked with delivering complex and diverse streams of benefits to citizens — from disaster relief to Social Security payments to investments in medical research, new technologies and state-of-the-art defense system — strong project and program management capabilities and practices can improve outcomes and drive effective execution throughout the federal government.

“PMIAA has the potential to transform how federal agencies deliver their missions,” said Tina Sung, vice president with the Partnership for Public Service. “It was clear during our recent event that PMIOs from across government are committed to meeting the spirit of this law, implementing it effectively and using it to amplify their agencies’ impact.”

At the event, PMI released a capstone report, “PMIAA: Strengthening the Government Delivery Foundation,” and a series of case studies highlighting how agencies and PMIOs are leveraging resources and partners inside and outside of government to help accelerate, validate and accomplish their missions.

Commissioned and supported with research from PMI, MIT’s Consortium for Engineering Program Management and others, this report distills how many government agencies have been leading (and continue to lead) efforts to build and sustain good practices in portfolio, program and project management. These include:

  • Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency PMO
  • Department of Veterans Affairs’ New Orleans Medical Center
  • Federal Emergency Management Administration Disaster Response Program
  • Transportation Security Administration Program Management
  • Federal Transit Administration Program for Grant Oversight
  • U.S. Navy Presidential Helicopter Project

Notably, these case studies and examples highlight project and program management capabilities that already exist within the U.S. federal government. The highlighted activities also align with PMIAA’s focus on the use of standards, improved career pathing for talent management, actively engaged executive sponsorship, cross-agency knowledge sharing, and capacity and capability building.

“PMIAA is absolutely critical to ensuring that proper project, program and portfolio management helps protect and safeguard taxpayer dollars.” said Joe Cahill, chief operating officer of the Project Management Institute.

Within the federal government, all strategic change happens through projects and programs. As PMIAA implementation continues, agency PMIOs should leverage the lessons learned from these cases, engage with the agency leaders who are building these capabilities, and collaborate across government to share and learn. PMIOs can also turn to organizations outside of government to support accelerated capability development with resources on key aspects of capability development, such as:

  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-recognized standards in project, program and portfolio management;
  • Professional certifications in project, program, and portfolio management developed in alignment with ANSI quality criteria;
  • Research on leading practices for effective strategy execution; and
  • A global community of subject matter experts who readily share their knowledge through live and virtual training programs, contributions to standards, and peer networking and mentoring.

Such standards and frameworks represent a key lever for PMIOs to pull for external support when benchmarking internal practices and capabilities for their capability-building efforts.

“The federal government’s mission to serve and protect its citizens requires effective investment and sound delivery capabilities,” said Rob Burton, partner with Crowell & Morning, LLP and former deputy administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. “That’s why it is essential that government agencies implement and execute project and program management to better deliver on their strategic goals and objectives while enabling oversight and transparency.”

David Summers is the global head of government relations for the Project Management Institute, a not-for-profit professional membership association for the project, program and portfolio management profession.