OPM, CIO Council pushing project management out in front

OPM, CIO Council pushing project management out in front

The Office of Personnel Management and the CIO Council are taking on the governmentwide shortage of project managers and solution architects by elevating these two positions above the generic term of computer specialist.

OPM by the end of the year will release agency guidelines on how to classify, recruit and certify IT project managers.

"E-government is consuming a lot of effort and resources across government and we need the right people to manage these projects," said Ira Hobbs, deputy CIO of the Agriculture Department and the co-chairman of the CIO Council's Human Capital and Workforce committee. "Experienced and well-trained project managers are hard to find and retain. This guidance is something we could create in a short amount of time and get an end result quickly."

Hobbs, who announced this effort at the Industry Advisory Council's Executive Leadership Conference earlier this week, said OPM and the CIO Council also are working on a similar guidance for solution architects, but it is harder to define the requirements to be a solution architect. Hobbs said he was unsure how long that guidance would take to finish.

The CIO Council and OPM began work on changing the status of project managers this past summer. OPM conducted four focus groups with public- and private-sector project managers to flesh out the job descriptions, and OPM released a draft guidance Oct. 18. Agencies finished submitting comments by Nov. 1.

"OPM is putting this on a fast track," Hobbs said. "We have to create the infrastructure to give agencies the ability to recruit, train and retain project managers."

At least five agencies run project manager training programs, including the General Services Administration's Strategic and Tactical Advocates for Results program and the Department of Housing and Urban Development's project management program. Hobbs said the guidance will create a formal, governmentwide system for selecting, developing and rewarding project managers.

The agency guidance covers:

  • What is a project manager as compared to a program manager?

  • What are a project manager's duties and responsibilities?

  • Guidance to human resources officials on pay category and occupational series.

  • How to qualify and rank project managers.

  • Certification vs. job experience.


  • Hobbs said project managers likely will start at a minimum grade 13 and will be eligible to be a part of the senior executive service level.

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