Institute maps government, global growth

BALTIMORE ' The world's largest organization of project managers plans to get even bigger.

And an interest group of the Project Management Institute that represents government project managers also wants to expand its member base by 60 percent in the coming 15 months.

Speaking Sunday at the PMI Global Congress for North America meeting, Mark Austin, a PMI board member, said the group's global expansion would also involve bringing more senior government managers into its fold.

"How can we bring them in and convince them to mainstream project management," Austin asked. "We need to create a home within PMI for senior managers."

With more than 114,000 members worldwide, PMI is the largest professional organization for project, program and portfolio managers. In the past year, its rolls have grown 18 percent.

Nearly 80 percent of its members are in North America, and computer, software, data processing and information technology project managers are the top member sectors.

More than 68,000 members have earned the PMI professional project manager certification and federal agencies are expected to increasingly use the certification as a benchmark.

While PMI executives would not discuss a specific membership objective, they said they are looking at major growth opportunities in China, Latin America and Europe. PMI opened a "regional service center" in Brussels, covering Europe, Africa and the Middle East, in June.

PMI's Government Specific Interest Group, or SIG, has about 1,200 members, a quarter of them certified as project management professionals.

In reaching out internationally, the PMI recognizes many challenges.

"Governments are shaped and formed very differently throughout the world," said Stephen Townsend, PMI's director of Global Markets Integration. "We are looking at how we can interface with different governments."

Lee Lichtenwalner, who takes over as the volunteer leader of the government SIG in January, said he would like to boost the group's membership to 2,000 by 2005.

"It's aggressive," said Lichtenwalner, an analyst for the Internal Revenue Service, based in Las Vegas.

The government SIG also wants to sign up more corporate sponsors.

The PMI congress concludes Tuesday.

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