Evaluating and Building Portfolio Management Maturity in a Federal Government Program

This paper will focus on portfolio management in a Federal government program environment and introduce a maturity model designed to evaluate and track portfolio management capability in that type environment.

The paper and maturity model will be based on the collective experience gained from implementing portfolio management in the American Community Survey and other federal programs and organizations at the U.S. Census Bureau.

The model evaluates and tracks the following program maturity characteristics:

• The portfolio management process maturity levels;
• The levels of strategic planning practiced;
• The level of organizational acceptance for the portfolio management processes.

Important topics that emerged from the development of this maturity model were the definition of portfolio management process characteristics, the value of strategic planning to the portfolio management process, and the importance of organizational acceptance in the success of implementing a new process.

Project Management: A Foundation for Leadership Transition

Leadership transitions present a myriad of challenges to organizations. In the Federal government, members of the Senior Executive Service are expected to move around their organizations and lead in multiple contexts based on agency need. Beginning in 1998, the U.S. Census Bureau made it a business priority to inculcate the globally recognized Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) throughout the fabric of the organization. Over the course of time, the Census Bureau has built a cadre of managers who are skilled in applying the PMBOK to their work, fostering strides in operations, planning, budgeting, and innovating at the agency. The years of constructing, adjusting, and strengthening a solid Census Bureau project management infrastructure have paid off in impressive business outcomes and organizational stability through leadership transitions.

In the spring of 2015, the American Community Survey Office (ACSO) at the Census Bureau experienced a change in Chiefs. This paper describes how project management not only served to smooth transition between Senior Executives leading the organization and enabled critical business decision-making to continue even early in the transition. By describing the correlation between leadership success and project management through transition, this paper will provide examples of benchmarks, lessons learned, and leadership practices that may serve other public or private organizations as they endeavor to lead through change.