Governmental Project Management Offices


Let’s talk about public projects!


By Stanisław Gasik

Warsaw, Poland


In a previous article in PMWJ (Gasik, 2023b) I wrote about the role of parliaments in Public Project Governance. When parliaments in parliamentary democracies decide to participate in shaping the ways of implementing public projects, they become the most important entity in this area (as well as in other areas of the functioning of states and societies). But there are not many countries that appreciate the importance of project management for their development so much. The legislative branch is usually situated above the executive branch, which is headed by a cabinet of ministers. Many, if not all, ministries are responsible for implementing projects. Ministries of development, infrastructure, transport, and natural resources are particularly dependent on the implementation of projects. By the nature of their activities, these ministries deal with projects related to their sectors of activity: development projects, construction of roads or airports, development of telecommunications infrastructure, development of cities, or construction of mines.

Project Management Office is an organizational unit responsible for effective project management in an organization. They perform tasks related to projects – their implementation, shaping of management methods, dissemination of knowledge of good practices, supervision of implementation, etc. In the public sector, they may be set up at any organizational level, from the smallest organization or even their constituent components up to the whole government. A special type of public PMOs are those that operate at the government level. These are Governmental Project Management Offices (Gasik, 2023a, Cabanis-Brevis, 2014). They deal with projects of all types or specific types – for example, infrastructure or IT. The former are horizontal GPMOs, while the latter are vertical GPMOs. They may be subordinate to the Prime Minister or operate within specific ministries. Note that in this sense PMOs working only for one ministry – for example, the Ministry of Culture or the Ministry of Agriculture are not considered vertical GPMOs – because their responsibilities are limited to one ministry and not to one type of project. These are ministerial PMOs, which are not the subject of this article. But PMOs working with all infrastructure or IT projects performed by a given government, although usually located in some ministries are considered GPMOs. GPMOs, like other PMOs, can deal with projects, programs, and entire portfolios of projects.

In the following chapters, I briefly describe some tasks of GPMOs operating in four countries.

Infrastructure and Project Authority, United Kingdom

Infrastructure and Project Authority (IPA)[1], is a horizontal GPMO working for the United Kingdom government. It reports to the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury. IPA mainly deals with Government Major Project Portfolio (GMPP) currently consisting of 244 projects (UK IPA, 2023). IPA’s main goal is to ensure the efficient implementation of major public projects, hence the GMPP is subject to special management rules (UK HM Treasury and Cabinet Office, 2011; UK IPA, 2020). Projects included in GMPP are subject to IPA‘s control (UK IPA, 2016, 2021). The scope of the IPA’s activities is not limited to the GMPP. For instance, it developed a document describing a functional standard for project, program, and portfolio management not limited to GMPP. It was published as a governmental document (UK Government, 2021).

IPA has published the Project Delivery Capability Framework (UK IPA, 2018) that defines the competencies needed to perform project management roles and career paths in the area of project management. The required technical, behavioral, and leadership competencies are specified for each role. Possible levels of competency assessment range from lack of knowledge and experience to expert knowledge and experience. The scope of this document is also not limited to GMPP.

UK IPA provides problem-management services and the knowledge needed by projects to be effectively implemented (UK IPA, 2021). One of the types of services is providing project assurance – activities aimed at ensuring that projects achieve their goals. Assurance is one of the main elements of the governance of projects. IPA creates an Integrated Assurance and Review Plan for major projects (HM Treasury and Cabinet Office, 2011) and performs independent project assurance for these projects to ensure the mitigation of project risks (UK IPA, 2016).

IPA released the Project Delivery Capability Framework (UK IPA, 2018), which defines the necessary competencies for various project management roles and career paths within the field of project management. The framework specifies the required technical, behavioral, and leadership competencies for each role, and it allows for competency assessments ranging from a lack of knowledge and experience to expert knowledge and experience. Like the previous documents, this framework’s scope is not confined to the GMPP.

To promote transparency and accountability, IPA requires ministries to publish data on major projects and annual reports on their websites (UK IPA, 2021). Additionally, IPA is responsible for storing and disseminating project knowledge (UK IPA, 2020). A project academy has recently been launched by IPA (UK IPA, 2020; UK Government, 2021).

One of IPA’s crucial goals is to enhance the Governmental Project Implementation System (GPIS) of UK projects and programs. This is achieved, in part, by analyzing and drawing conclusions from the implementation of major UK projects (UK IPA, 2021). IPA collaborates with ministries to develop project and project program management capabilities within them (UK IPA, 2021). In general, IPA provides support for the development of project management capabilities in government departments and establishes standards.

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

The Canadian federal GPMO is the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBoCS, https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat.html). Its main task is shaping the way public projects are implemented (www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/services/information-technology-project-management/project-management.html). It also maintains software supporting project management.

The main documents from this area are Directive on the Management of Projects and Programmes containing the basic principles of public project management (Canada TBoCS, 2019) and Policy on the Planning and Management of Investments (Canada TBoCS, 2021) with extensive appendices.

There are two organizational levels that TBoCS works on in the area of project management:


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Editor’s note: This article series is related to the management of public programs and projects, those organized, financed and managed by governments and public officials.  The author, Dr. Stanisław Gasik, is the author of the book “Projects, Government, and Public Policy”, recently published by CRC Press / Taylor and Francis Group.  That book and these articles are based on Dr. Gasik’s research into governmental project management around the world over the last decade.  Stanisław is well-known and respected by PMWJ editors; we welcome and support his efforts to share knowledge that can help governments worldwide achieve their most important initiatives.

How to cite this paper: Gasik, S. (2023). Governmental Project Management Offices. Let’s talk about public projects, series article, PM World Journal, Volume XII, Issue VIII, August. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/pmwj132-Aug2023-Gasik-Governmental-Project-Management-Offices.pdf

About the Author

Stanisław Gasik, PhD, PMP

Warsaw, Poland


Dr. Stanisław Gasik, PMP is a project management expert. He graduated from the University of Warsaw, Poland, with M. Sc. in mathematics and Ph. D. in organization sciences (with a specialty in project management). Stanisław has over 30 years of experience in project management, consulting, teaching, and implementing PM organizational solutions. His professional and research interests include project knowledge management, portfolio management, and project management maturity. He is the author of the only holistic model of project knowledge management spanning from the individual to the global level.

Since 2013, his main professional focus has been on public projects. He was an expert in project management at the Governmental Accountability Office, an institution of the US Congress. He is the author of “Projects, Government, and Public Policy,” a book that systematizes knowledge about government activities in the area of project management.

He was a significant contributor to PMI’s PMBOK® Guide and PMI Standard for Program Management and contributed to other PMI standards. He has lectured at global PMI and IPMA congresses and other international conferences.

His web page is www.gpm3.eu.

To view other works by Dr. Gasik, please visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/stanislaw-gasik-phd-pmp/

[1] www.gov.uk/government/organisations/infrastructure-and-projects-authority