Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act of 2015 Passed into Law. Why it’s Meaningless

PMIAA passed into law: Who cares?

The PMIAA Program Management Improvement Accountability Act of 2015 Passed into Law: Whoop-de-doo!

The Program Management Improvement Accountability Act of 2015, (PMIAA) or should I say: The Project Management Institute’s Accountability Act of 2015, is intended to upgrade the level of project delivery and program management for Federal projects. The law provides executive agencies – 14, by my last count, to implement the law. Sound familiar? Regardless of hype from scholars and PMI lobbyists; this law will eventually prove to be ineffectual, and similar to the failed ObamaCare administrative quagmire.

According to PMIAA, Office of management & Budget (OMB) will “engage with the private sector to identify best practices in program and project management that would improve federal program and project management.”  That seems highly speculative and dubious when the private sector had no participation in the drafting of the law.

Some things can’t be taught – you just have to realize them in your own time. The Law – a mere 1,600 words, is over-broad, and does little more than theorize some basic abstract management principles that have little chance of being interpolated from the lecture podium into causative action, for lack of clarity.

That means there is little likelihood that PMIAA, in of itself, will be some sort of panacea that creates open communication and accountability. Or, for that matter, that all of the Federal functionaries propping up the law will suddenly be enlightened. One shortcoming is that the drafting of the language in the bill was unilaterally, without diverse input, by the PMI, as if PMI was the last word in project management (not as of the time of this writing it was not).

PMIAA might aspire or purport to jump the shark of years of project management experience into implementation, but we know this to be highly improbable – as if enacting the law suddenly empowered Federal committees with the sensible knowledge and best practice they have been so lacking. If the DHS St. Elizabeth’s is any indication of the Fed’s ability to build, than we can be certain there are no better models to follow, as that is one of their largest. If the Solyndra debacle was any indication of the Fed’s program investment or procurement acumen for the future, we may have cause for concern that Feds might be calling the shots.

People are too quick to blame the system: does a ballplayer complain to the umpire, or whine about his bat when he flies out?

At the end of the day, I personally could care less about the bill because I don’t get involved with government work. I daresay it will have a negligible effect on other building sectors. The tacit assumption that PMI has any great leverage in global industry outside the US/UK would also be a miscalculation, as such is not quite the case.

Is the PMIAA ObamaCare for the construction industry, and PMI the chief HMO provider?

The other reason PCMIAA may never grow teeth is because it is patently administrative and functionary-heavy, just like ObamaCare.  I have built with Trump’s organization before, and I can attest such convoluted and complex management structures are not going to be the face of the Fed going into a Trump administration going forward: that is why the law is a waste of time.

Successful program managers try to find a way through in any system, instead of trying to esoterically change the rules.

Before the Fed can hope to adopt such overambitious programs, the Trump organization will need to phase-out the current administrations presiding over years of incompetence before the trend can be reversed. In other words, did anyone ever consider that at least part of the Federal project failure might actually be a factor of personnel incompetence, rather than only defective management systems?

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Derek Graham is a Primavera 6 scheduler and schedule oversight consultant for public and private sector projects with four decades of construction industry experience. He has been an active construction expert witness in over 30 cases - both nationwide, and Federally, since 2006, when his book Managing Residential Construction Projects, was published by McGraw Hill