Making government more efficient - the right way

At the same time, there are too many failing programs that waste money as well as bloated, over budget projects. These wasteful programs capture the public’s attention, and in our era of budget deficits and demand to cut spending, it is even more important for our government to be efficient – not just sufficiently so, but systemically so. For the government of today to be one that “does more for less” the policies it follows must be based on good program management. The key to that is broadening awareness of these best practices among policy makers.
 

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That is why the April 18 launch of the Government Efficiency Caucus, led on a bi-partisan basis by Congressmen Todd Young, an Indiana Republican, and Jim Matheson, a Utah Democrat, is so welcome and so needed. The Caucus will look to the private sector to identify and utilize the best practices and standards there for application in the federal government. The Caucus seeks to find pragmatic solutions so that taxpayers can be confident that their government will delivers the services it promises efficiently and in a way that increases value for their tax dollars.
 
PMI wholeheartedly endorses the creation of the Government Efficiency Caucus. We pledge to support it any way we can, and while the Caucus agenda has yet to be fully formed, we think there are objectives it can adopt that will help realize its goal of making the Federal Government more efficient.  Three things are crucial.
 
First, the Caucus should push for creation of a program manager job classification within the government. Such a classification will not only help with talent retention but the measurements for achieving the job classification are ones focused solely on making the government more efficient including more effective planning, more effective budget management and risk mitigation.
 
Second, the Caucus should identify those private sector practices most easily transferrable to the public sector and look for ways to implement them.  According to PMI’s 2012 Pulse of the Profession research, these could include implementation of basic program management techniques, commitment to talent development and an increased focus on success metrics. These are just a few of the practices that have been shown to improve performance, reduce risk and save money in the private sector.
 
Finally, the Caucus should seek ways to deepen the program management culture with the Federal Government. Our studies show that when senior managers support and push better program management, the savings increase dramatically.   
 
The Government Efficiency Caucus will no doubt find that there are many other ways to make the Federal Government more efficient and increase voter confidence in our government’s efficiency. At PMI, we believe that one of the most essential – and simple – ways to make the government a more effective steward of taxpayer funds is by instilling program management best practices already proven in the private and public sectors. We look forward to working closely with Congressman Young and Congressman Matheson to find new and creative efficiencies to deliver the same competitive advantages for the Federal Government as our 400,000 project management members deliver for organizations in more than 185 countries around the world.


Langley
 is president and chief executive officer at the Project Management Institute, PMI.