Government's Project Management Shortfalls


President-Elect Barack Obama appears to be days (if not hours) away from naming a national CTO. Bob Otto, a longtime government IT management veteran, most recently as CIO and CTO of the U.S. Postal Service, has some thoughts on just what that person needs to do.

Part of the new CTO's charge will be to shore up the project management skills within the IT organizations of the federal, state and local government.

It's no secret that government agencies and departments have had more than their fair share of IT project failures. (Just read this, or this, or this.)

Why? "Half the problem is getting to the root of the project failure. We didn't skill many people to be project managers," says Otto, now an EVP and head of the advisory services division with Agilex. "It's a training issue and a mentoring issue."

But Otto says it's not widespread: many agencies have solved the project-management shortfall through extensive training and certification programs. The problem is, government agencies tend to be compartmentalized, so successes in one don't easily translate into others.

That's where Obama's new national CTO comes in. Otto sees seven key areas where the annointed IT chief and his/her team must act (Check out CIO Insight shortly for more). One of those is to deal with the "knowledge drain" permeating the government IT worker ranks.

"People in the federal, state or local are retiring or disenchanted and want to move on, Otto says. "Many IT managers love what they do, but in many cases their hands are tied and they don't see a compensation system to help them."

Both Baseline and CIO Insight will be covering government IT leadership issues in the coming months, especially as the recession takes its toll on them.

Help us out. Government IT managers: what are your biggest challenges today? How do you see a national CTO alleviating them?

Previously with Otto: 3 Guiding Principles to Technology Acceptance