Parliaments and projects


Let’s talk about public projects!


By Stanisław Gasik

Warsaw, Poland


My previous article in this series (Gasik, 2023a) addressed the Public Project Governance component of the role of projects in public administration. For projects to fulfill their role, they must be implemented in a systematic way. Many institutions may be involved in organizing the ways of implementing public projects. Public administration has many levels, each of which has a specific mandate. This also applies to project activities.

Public Project Governance covers several levels: parliament, cabinet, ministries/departments, subordinate institutions, and companies managed by these institutions as well as internal levels – portfolios or projects. Parliament is the most influential institution in democratic countries. This article is devoted to the activities of parliaments in the area of project management.

Parliaments pass laws. There are three types of project management legislation:

  1. Acts for individual projects or programs
  2. Sectorial acts
  3. Acts for all projects (general project laws)

The regulation by parliaments of the methods of implementation of individual projects or their larger collections is not equivalent to the whole development of public project management in a given country. Also executive branches of government deal with project management. However, the description of the activities of parliaments shows a very important piece of the development of the supreme state authorities’ awareness in managing subordinate jurisdictions.

Acts for individual projects or programs

Projects were implemented since the beginning of time, long before they were separated from other types of organized human activities. In ancient historical times, they were implemented on the basis of the decisions of the rulers – for example, the pharaohs decided to build the Egyptian pyramids. But as the ways of governing the state developed, the powers of the rulers were delegated to parliaments. This could not have happened earlier than 930 when the body recognized as the first modern parliament was established in Iceland.

However, it took several hundred years for parliaments to address project management. The Rebuilding of London Act 1666 (Parliament of England, 1667) was passed in England in 1667. Since the law dealt with many works today called projects with the common goal of rebuilding London, the subject matter of the law fits well with today’s definition of a project program. The law was primarily concerned with the parameters of the buildings to be constructed: their height or wall thickness, the materials used for construction, and also some of the parameters of the streets – for example, their width. In this law, we find provisions for what today we would call quality management: the surveyors were authorized to check whether buildings meet the parameters specified in the Law.

More centuries pass… In the United States, the Pacific Railway Act 1862 (U.S. Congress, 1962) was passed. This legislation dealt with the construction of a railroad that would connect the clusters that existed in the eastern part of the United States with the West Coast. The act specified how the land would be acquired for the railroad and how construction would be financed through 30-year government bonds. It was not until an amendment to the 1863 law that the width of the tracks was specified (four feet and eight and one-half inches; 1,435m).


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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). Parliaments and projects. Let’s talk about public projects, series article, PM World Journal, Volume XII, Issue VII, July. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/pmwj131-Jul2023-Gasick-Parliaments-and-projects-series-7.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/