OECD Principles of Public Administration and projects


Let’s talk about public projects!


By Stanisław Gasik

Warsaw, Poland


The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an organization that has been working on improving public administration for years. The outcomes of this work include the series of publications known as “The Principles of Public Administration” (OECD, 1999, 2013, 2024). Many countries credit the improved functioning of their governments and public administrations to the efforts of the OECD.

The execution of projects in public administration is a key determinant of the effectiveness of public administration overall. The article addresses the significance of projects in public governance, as well as the role of projects in OECD recommendations concerning the operation of public administrations.

Influencing project management by governments

The endeavors we presently classify as projects – such as constructing buildings, geographical expeditions, and wars – have been carried out since the dawn of human history. They serve as the cornerstone for the functioning of governments and public administrations. Consequently, governments strive to enhance project management within their administrations. As early as 1667, the English Parliament enacted the Rebuilding of London Act 1666 (Parliament of England, 1667), containing elements pertinent to the methods of undertaking work associated with reconstructing London after the Great Fire, which encompassed projects. Since the nineteenth century, the U.S. government has enacted legislation pertaining to the execution of projects of significant national importance (e.g., Pacific Railway, Panama Canal, Boulder Canyon Project, for more details, refer to Gasik, 2023b). The Manhattan Project in the United States (the construction of the atomic bomb) is frequently cited as a paramount instance of employing modern public project management techniques (Gosling, 2010). Until the 1960s, public administration took the lead in advancing project management knowledge (e.g., Morris, 1994; Archibald, 2008; Lenfle and Loch, 2010; Kwak, 2003). In the United States, the Department of Defense published guidelines for managing procurement effectiveness in 1967, essentially pertaining to projects (USA DoD, 1967). The first legislation specifically addressing the management of public projects was enacted in Iceland in 1971 (Iceland Althingi, 1970).

Presently, governments are employing various means to enhance the execution of public projects within their jurisdictions. Some recommended practices are universally applicable to all public projects (e.g., UK Government, 2018), while others pertain to specific sector projects (e.g., IT projects, Colorado GASC, 2012). Additionally, through legislation, governments seek to ensure the efficient execution of large-scale projects (e.g., Hibernia Development Project, Canada Parliament, 1990).

At the governmental level, institutions are established with the responsibility for efficiently executing public projects and programs, commonly referred to as Governmental Project Management Offices (GPMOs, e.g., British IPA, https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/infrastructure-and-projects-authority, Lithuania CPMA, https://www.cpva.lt/en). Governmental institutions are emerging with the aim of providing direct support for project implementation, especially for those projects at risk of encountering significant challenges (e.g., Australia MPFA, https://business.gov.au/expertise-and-advice/Major-Projects-Facilitation-Agency; India Project Monitoring Group, https://www.investindia.gov.in/project-monitoring-group). There are teams and institutions dedicated to improving Governmental Project Implementation Systems (e.g., US Program Management Policy Council, USA Congress, 2015; Norway Concept Programme, https://www.ntnu.edu/concept). Audit bodies are enhancing their expertise in project audits and releasing guidelines in this domain (e.g., USA GAO, 2016, 2020; Australia ANAO, 2010). Recommendations are formulated, and practices are implemented for processes and areas involved in project execution within public organizations. These encompass portfolio management, stakeholder engagement, project assurance, qualifications of project managers and contractors, and knowledge management. The coherent array of project management practices implemented by the government is termed the Governmental Project Implementation System (GPIS, Gasik, 2023a).


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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). OECD Principles of Public Administration and projects. Let’s talk about public projects, series article, PM World Journal, Volume XII, Issue XII, December. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/pmwj136-Dec2023-Gasik-OECD-Principles-of-Public-Administration-and-projects-.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/