The Data Briefing: The Virtuous Circle of Improving Program and Project Management Through Data

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act of 2015 (PMIAA). The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill back in September, and President Obama has indicated that he will sign the bill into law soon. PMIAA has four objectives toward improving how the federal government manages programs and projects.

  1. Establishing a formal job series for Federal program managers.
  2. Creating a governmentwide program management policy.
  3. Designating a senior executive in each Federal agency who will oversee that agency’s program management policy and strategy.
  4. Instituting an interagency council on project management.

Why is PMIAA needed? The most immediate reason is that the Federal government has few centralized laws and policies for program and project management. There are many laws for program and project management but, these laws are focused on specific programs and projects. What is missing is a governmentwide framework for handling common program and project management issues. A lack of a framework has led to only 64% success rate for government projects. According to the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), increasing program efficiency by one percent a year for the next decade will save close to a trillion dollars (PDF, 1.8 MB, 32 pages, July 2015).

The PMIAA will have two profound impacts on Federal government data. First, expect to see a wider adoption of agile project management in managing Federal IT programs and projects. The increased use of agile project management will cause more APIs and data-driven Federal agency applications. Also, there should be a renewed emphasis on government-wide collaborations on common API and data applications among the agencies. Even non-IT government projects will see an increased success rate as lessons learned from the Federal IT projects will apply to many programs and projects.

A second impact is that programs and projects will benefit from the increased access to performance data. Using good evaluation measures will help agencies make better decisions on which programs and projects to initiate and keep programs and projects on track to a successful completion. PMIAA’s increased emphasis on program and project management will call for better collaboration apps, measurement apps, and task management apps. PMIAA could help spur the increased development of enterprise-focused apps that will help Federal employees and agencies better manage projects.

The PMIAA will create a virtuous improvement circle as the increased success of Federal data projects will help improve overall government program and project management by providing better performance tracking data. I am looking forward to PMIAA’s implementation as it promises to greatly improve how the Federal government delivers public services to American citizens.

Each week, The Data Briefing showcases the latest federal data news and trends. Visit this blog every week to learn how data is transforming government and improving government services for the American people. If you have ideas for a topic or have questions about government data, please contact me via email.

Dr. William Brantley is the Training Administrator for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Global Intellectual Property Academy. You can find out more about his personal work in open data, analytics, and related topics at All opinions are his own and do not reflect the opinions of the USPTO or GSA.

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