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Evolving A Federal PMO—Part 1
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 18:10 |



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byJonathan Weinstein, PMP
Achieving success in government Project Management Offices (PMOs) takes a concerted effort. Life for a
government PMO typically starts with identifying and harnessing theinterest of project management
practitioners in the organization, followed by a sometimes long sales process to an organization’s
influencers and decision-makers. Among the organizations we have helpedbuild PMOs, there was one
where seven years passed between the initial discussions and the PMO’s launch. That’s not a typo. The
rotation of appointed leaders in government organizations adds somecomplexity to reaching the tipping
point where the necessary support and resources are aligned to enable the launch of a PMO
development effort.
In this two-part article, we’ll first look at a few ofthe key challenges of establishing PMOs in the
government environment and what one agency did to overcome them. Next month, we’ll look at the
same PMO today to see where they are and where they’regoing.
PMOs Take Time to Get Right
One similarity among all PMO launches is that they take time. Not many take the seven years to get
started; a period of three to five years to start launch andmature a PMO is more common. The
Administrative Resource Center (ARC) within the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Public Debt
followed a path similar to the one shown in the graphic: about fiveyears to fully develop the office.

ARC is an unusual governmental organization: a franchise that operates as a self-sustaining business,
providing its customers—other federal agencies—financial andadministrative support services. Their
projects are process- and change management-intensive, causing the customer to standardize its typical
business functions. In 2005, recognizing the need for a...