PMIAA Unveiled: 9 Essential Features

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Program Management Improvement Accountability Act (PMIAA)

Overview of Implications from the Program Management Improvement Accountability Act (PMIAA)

There is a lot that the members of Congress disagree on, but there was one recently proposed bill that received overwhelming support and unanimous approval from both parties. And that, perhaps, is not a surprise.

If you have anything to say or feel about perpetual government waste and ineffectiveness or if you are involved in any government project or program management (P/PM) activities, you have most likely already heard about the S.1550 – Program Management Improvement Accountability Act (PMIAA). The bill, intended for non-DoD federal organizations, was introduced to the Senate in June 2015 and a year and a half later, was signed into law. Although there is still a lot of uncertainty around the specifics of the law’s implementation, the main postulates are now set, and agencies are rolling their sleeves up in preparation for the next steps.

To help provide clarity on the implications of the PMIAA and offer some insights for ensuring timely compliance, we put together the list of 9 key points that outline the essence of the new legislation.

What’s in it for me?

Starting with the heart of any and every organization, its workers, the following three aspects cover how the law affects the employees who are directly involved in federal government program management. These measures are intended to formalize the program management profession in the federal government and to provide a more transparent and attractive route for employment, growth, and professional development of program management professionals.

  1. Official job series. The law requires the OPM to establish an official job series for the federal program management personnel. The series represent a government occupational group or a job family of positions that are within the same line of work. This will allow a more standard approach to managing all aspects of HR as it pertains to the P/PM profession in the federal government.
  1. Formal job criteria. The formalization of the job series will allow for the establishment of a more standard, well-understood and agreed upon criteria for hiring and promoting program management (PM) professionals and for the creation of more transparency, better morale, and higher productivity.
  1. Clear career path. With the documentation of the job series and criteria, building a more distinct career path is the next stride that the new regulation will help to advance. As a result of this regulation, we expect a more stringent set of job requirements in terms of program management training, education, and experience. The law makes provision for the agencies to enhance the role of program managers through training and mentoring in the relevant competencies, collecting best practices and lessons learned, as well as building and using common templates and tools for better data gathering and analysis.

What’s my agency required to do? 

PMIAA calls for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue new policies and standards for improved program management, and the executive agencies are required to follow and implement the new guidelines.

  1. Assigned executive sponsor. One of the prominent features of the enacted bill was the requirement for every federal civilian agency that is required to have a CFO, to appoint a senior executive to oversee program management policy and strategy. This seems to be especially practical and logical for the “Accountability” part, as this is what the fourth letter stands for in the PMIAA acronym. It is well known that even the best-intended projects or programs are often doomed to fail if no executive support or sponsorship is in place. The bill enacted in December requires agencies to designate a Program Management Improvement Officer, who will be responsible for the development and implementation of program management strategy, policy, and standards.
  1. Standardized policy and guidelines. One of the center-points of the PMIAA is the development and implementation of improved standard-based program management policy, guidance, and processes that are consistent with the industry’s widely accepted best principles and practices. Until now, there was no program management policy that would be accepted and used government-wide. Now, the OMB is required to establish and adopt a standard-based model for government program management, develop a 5-year strategic plan for P/PM, and oversee the application of these procedures across the federal government.
  1. Continued regulation evolvement. The law envisions an additional set of regulations that might be needed to implement the new policies and guidance. The Deputy Director for the OMB has a deadline to release such regulations no later than three months after the issuance of the aforementioned policy.

Is it just up to us?  

Unlike some of the previous regulations that had more of a recommendatory character, such as FAC-P/PM for example, the PMIAA has a more prescriptive nature that necessitates external oversight, inter-agency collaboration, and cooperation with the private sector. 

  1. Inter-agency council. According to the Act, the OMB is required to establish and chair the Program Management Policy Council, comprised of the Program Management Improvement Officers from each agency. The Council is intended to help standardize agency practices related to program and project management and serve as a primary forum for sharing the program management knowledge and best practices. The Council will represent a collaborative platform that helps break government silos and improves the use of accumulated knowledge and experience.
  1. GAO review and report. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is obligated by the PMIAA to issue an Effectiveness of Policies Report no later than three years after the legislation’s enactment. This report will examine the outcomes of the actions and measures implemented as a result of the new law, including the established policy and guidelines, the 5-year strategic plan, the PM Improvement Officers, and the PM Policy Council.
  1. Industry engagement. The PMIAA requires the federal agencies to engage with the private sector to identify and implement the best practices for program management improvement. Partnering with the industry for learning and development has been proved to be an effective and successful method throughout the history of the federal program management. Adding to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, Strategy Execution creates, revises and promotes best practices identified through tens of thousands of responses to surveys from our training participants, facilitators, and subject matter experts. Strategy Execution provides a roadmap for individuals interested in pursuing a career in program management and offers a single-source reference for determining appropriate competency-based training for organizational improvement.

From the days of the Clinger-Cohen Act to FITARA, program management has evolved to be one of the federal government’s top priorities. The rapidly changing world of technology has constantly challenged PM skills and capabilities. Through this transformation period, developing the right set of individual and organizational program management competencies has been identified as having the largest impact on project success. That’s why enactment of the PMIAA is one of the project management landmark milestones that will carry its impact throughout years to come.

Was the list above helpful? What is your take on the new legislation? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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Strategy Execution has been the leader in program and project management training for over 30 years. Our affiliations with individual and organizational program and project management experts and thought leaders have given us the unique opportunity to develop and deliver the highest quality adult learning assets globally. We constantly strive to maximize the ability for participants to apply the newly developed skills on the job. Because our expertise in program and project management skill development is unmatched in the industry, we are fully committed to guiding our clients and partners toward the most effective and efficient development programs in compliance with all federal laws, policies, and regulations. 

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