OMB and OPM aim for expert IT project managers

OMB and OPM aim for expert IT project managers

The Office of Management and Budget is working with the Office of Personnel Management to develop a policy requiring agency systems project managers to hold a commercial certification or show long-time professional success running IT projects.

An OMB official said the policy is a first attempt at shaping the definition and requirements for systems project managers. OPM likely will issue the formal policy, but no deadline has been set, the official added.

Federal agencies are in dire need of qualified IT project managers. OMB said 1,400 systems projects, including 700 on the at-risk list, do not have experienced leaders.

The guidance will require employees to be certified by the Project Management Institute or another similar commercially accredited program or they must demonstrate that they were within 10 percent of cost, schedule and performance goals on an IT project they ran. The official said the goal is to help agencies gain management expertise.

OMB will require agencies to prove they have qualified project managers for each IT project identified in their fiscal 2005 budget requests, said an agency project manager who has seen the draft policy.

'The cost and time to get a PMI certification or similar one is a lot to ask by next October,' the manager said. 'Agencies are scurrying around trying to find alternatives. But there is no way we can have enough people certified by the time we have to submit our proposals. My guess is there will be some give and take between OMB and the agencies to meet this request.'

Another government official said certification is a good thing, but employees must have the option of where to get accredited.

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