Source: Federal Times

By Andy Medici

A bipartisan pair of Senators have introduced legislation that aims to improve how the federal government manages projects and to cut wasteful spending on poorly managed programs.

Senators Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., introduced the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act, which would create a formal job series and career path for program managers in the federal government in order to improve how agencies manage projects.

The bill also requires that the Office of Management and Budget develop and adopt governmentwide standards, policies and guidelines for program and project management at federal agencies, as well as chair an interagency council on program management.

OMB would also conduct annual reviews of agency projects and programs to see if they were being managed correctly, including addressing issues identified as high risk by the Government Accountability Office.

Each agency would also have to designate a senior executive as a "program management improvement officer" who would be responsible for program management policy and strategy as well as developing ways to recruit and retain qualified project managers.

"The Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act streamlines efforts and outlines strategies to correct widespread deficiencies, lax oversight and unnecessary cost incurred by preventable delays in meeting stated program goals and deadlines," Ernst said in a statement.

She called the reforms "much needed" and said they ensure that taxpayer dollars are safeguarded by increasing accountability through the federal government.

Heitkamp said the legislation was part of her effort to reduce confusing and unnecessary regulations, which she calls the Cut Red Tape Initiative.

"'I'm proud to work with Senator Ernst on a bipartisan bill that builds on this initiative by promoting more responsibility and oversight among our federal managers, helping them improve their programs, reducing government waste, and making the government work better," Heitkamp said.

The legislation mirrors a companion bill introduced into the House by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Todd Young, R-Ind.

Mark Langley, the president and CEO of the Project Management institute, said the reforms will provide the necessary first steps in meeting the core challenges that result in cost overruns and delays on critical projects across the government.

The reform legislation is based in part on research conducted by the Project Management Institute that found organizations that invested in project management saw savings.

"Upon passage, this legislation will lead to increased collaboration, improved decision making and reduced risk throughout the federal government," Langley said.

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