“these commonsense reforms ensure that taxpayer dollars are safeguarded by increasing accountability throughout the federal government”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bolstering efforts to prevent billions in wasted taxpayer dollars due to mismanagement throughout our federal government, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) bipartisan Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act of 2015 today passed the Senate unanimously.

A recent GAO report revealed that many federal government projects are grossly over budget, significantly delayed, or fail to meet their original purpose. Many of these projects are terminated years after the program was implemented, wasting billions of taxpayer dollars. Some of these failures have been attributed to the fact that professionals tasked with managing these federal programs fail to use common best practices and standards that are widely acknowledged and used in the private sector. Furthermore, there is not one distinct government job series that spells out program management qualifications. This is dividing the workforce responsible for delivering effective programs. This ongoing problem can be corrected by recognizing program management as a discipline essential to government success. A recent study found the “United States alone could save as much as $995 billion by 2025 by increasing public sector efficiency by just 1 percent a year.”

“This bipartisan legislation puts our federal government back on track by streamlining efforts and outlining strategies to correct widespread deficiencies, lax oversight and unnecessary cost overruns incurred by preventable delays in meeting stated program goals and deadlines,” said Senator Ernst. “By adopting widely accepted management standards that are often used in the private sector, these commonsense reforms ensure that taxpayer dollars are safeguarded by increasing accountability throughout the federal government. I’m delighted that my colleagues in the Senate recognize the epidemic of mismanagement that’s eating away at the effectiveness of our federal government.”

The Iowa Senator introduced this bipartisan legislation alongside Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) earlier this year. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is also a cosponsor. The legislation passed unanimously out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in June. After Senate passage today, now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for full consideration.

About Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act:

  • Establishes a leader within each agency that is focused on program management.
  • Creates an inter-agency Program Management Council to drive improvements through portfolio reviews of agency programs and encourages communications between agencies and program management professionals.
  • Requires the development of a specific job category with distinct qualification for project managers.
  • Requires the federal government to adopt widely-accepted program management best practices and standards.
  • Includes two amendments that:
    • Requires the Government Accountability Office to issue a report three years after the bill’s enactment on its overall effectiveness and impact on program management in the federal government.
    • Works directly with the Department of Defense to improve their current procedures while making sure to not duplicate existing efforts.

Examples Of Preventable Taxpayer Waste:

  • The Healthcare.gov Preparation and Launch: “The administration spent $840 million on the creation of healthcare.gov and its supporting systems. According to GAO: CMS incurred significant cost increases, schedule slips, and delayed system functionality for the FFM [federally facilitated marketplace] and data hub systems due primarily to changing requirements that were exacerbated by oversight gaps. From September 2011 to February 2014, FFM obligations increased from $56 million to more than $209 million. . . . Because of unclear guidance and inconsistent oversight, there was confusion about who had the authority to approve contractor requests to expend funds for additional work. . . . As a result, CMS launched Healthcare.gov without verification that it met performance requirements.”
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Scheduling Replacement Project: “Terminated in September 2009 after spending an estimated $127 million over nine years. Despite spending nearly a decade attempting to modernize the department’s 25 year old outpatient scheduling system, the VA had not implemented any of the planned system’s capabilities and it was scrapped. VA began a new project for the scheduling system, which GAO warns is at risk due to ‘weaknesses in several key project management disciplines and a lack of effective oversight.’”
  • The Office of Personnel Management’s Retirement Systems Modernization Program: “Canceled in February 2011 after spending approximately $231 million on the agency’s third attempt to automate the processing of Federal employee retirement claims.”
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers: “Four medical centers at the VA (Las Vegas, Orlando, Denver and New Orleans) have realized cost increases that ‘range from 66 percent to 427 percent and delays range from 14 to 86 months.’ In the aggregate, these four projects will see cost increases of more than $2.4 billion.”

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