Relevant challenges and lessons


in the implementation of a Project Management

Office in a legislative power

The experience of the National Chamber of Representatives of Argentina (2016-2019)



By Paloma Martin

Argentina and USA


This study analyzes the functioning of the Project Management Office (PMO) under the authority of the Administrative Secretary of the National Chamber of Representatives between 2016 and 2019. During this period, the Presidency of the Chamber saw its role strengthened in the strategic planning of the government program, in the coordination of management action, in the monitoring of the fulfillment of the government’s priority goals, and in accountability to the citizenry. The text examines in-depth the experience of the Planning and Control Management Unit (UPCG), a project management office (PMO) created in 2017 that allowed maintaining the strategic coherence of the government program and focusing it on the achievement of results during the government period. It also identifies opportunities for improvement in the development of the functions exercised and provides lessons for other countries and legislative institutions interested in strengthening these capabilities.

Keywords: project management office, strategic planning, coordination, monitoring, accountability, methodology, communication.

  1. Case study: the experience of the Project Management Office in the National Chamber of Representatives of Argentina (2016-2019)

1.1  Immediate context

The National Chamber of Representatives of the Nation is one of the two Houses that compose the National Congress of the Argentine Republic. That is, the National Chamber of Representatives and the National Chamber of Senators form the Parliament and are the legislative power of the country. The representatives elected are in office for four years. Every year the legislative body chooses the Speaker of the Chamber of Representatives that it is the one who proposes the authorities who will hold the Secretaries and will be the Speaker’s assistants in the institution management[1].

During 2015 the economic crisis affecting Argentina and its fiscal deficit had made it clear that it was necessary to improve human and financial resources management. At the same time, society was demanding political leaders to manage public resources in a transparent way and to account for the way they are used, as well as to provide better services delivery.

As a response to this demand, the new national government administration that took power in December 2015 had expressed, among other measures, the need to establish a state modernization plan proposing a substantial change inside each public body. While other governments in the region were already working on the New Public Management agenda, Argentina had failed attempts during the nineties[2].

Even though the National Chamber of Representatives, as a public body, does not aim at maximizing profitability or providing direct services to the community, the urgency of improving the allocation of resources by promoting responsible management and accountability became evident. For such purposes, the President of the National Chamber of Representatives created the “Program for Parliamentary Modernization, Innovation, Transparency and Democratic Strengthening 2016/2017”[3].

Historically, the administration of the National Chamber of Representatives had been at the service of political activity and had not considered efficiency values or criteria. The modernization and achievement of results had not had an impact on the efficient use of spending and resources, nor had it been carried out with performance management tools.

In December 2015, a new administration took power, and the authorities of the National Chamber of Representatives were changed.  In this context, one of the first measures put into practice was to promote an organizational diagnosis carried out by the Administrative Secretariat since its mission is to guarantee the functioning of the National Chamber of Deputies, assuring the responsible management of its resources promoting public management transparency and accountability. Specifically, at that moment, it oversaw managing 6200 employees, 13 buildings, and a budget of 3.647 million pesos, equivalent to 280 million dollars.  This diagnosis detected the non-existence of internal processes or mechanisms of control and planning, low communication among the different organizational units generating isolated silos, double efforts, inefficiency in the use of resources, large amounts of paper used in errands, almost no systematization, and low professionalization of human resources.  The Administrative Secretary recognized that many of these challenges required multisectoral approaches.


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 9th Annual University of Maryland PM Symposium in May 2022.  It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.

How to cite this paper: Martin, P. (2022). Relevant challenges and lessons in the implementation of a Project Management Office in a legislative power: The experience of the National Chamber of Representatives of Argentina (2016-2019); presented at the 9th Annual University of Maryland Project Management Symposium, College Park, Maryland, USA in May 2022; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue VIII, August.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/pmwj120-Aug2022-Martin-challenges-lessons-of-pmo-in-legislative-power-UMD.pdf

About the Author

Paloma Martin

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Maryland, USA


 Paloma Martin is a specialist in Innovation Management. She has been involved for more than fifteen years with diverse NGOs helping children, young people and women, providing them with tools for their development and leadership. With experience, she discovered that building leadership through innovation management to multiply impact is what truly drives her. She found that project management was the most effective way of doing it. For the last seven years she has collaborated with different government agencies, mostly in her area of expertise, implementing and teaching project management tools.

She began to work at different government offices in the city of Buenos Aires and later jumped to the National Chamber of Deputies, where she created the first Project Management Office in a legislative branch in the world. Because of these achievements, the Project Management Institute selected her has to lead the Public Project Community and she provided an institutional space for education, exchange practice, and networking. Through the implementation of project management in the National Chamber, women who did not have formal positions within the organization could become project managers and thus demonstrate their leadership. As part of this leadership, she has devoted herself to empowering future women leaders and candidates by training them project management, and budget elaboration and analysis with a gender perspective.

She is currently a Graduate Student at the University of Maryland in MPM and a TA for the Public Leadership Program for undergraduate students.

[1] The Secretaries are political authorities, which means that they are appointed and removed by the speaker of the Chamber at its will or if the speaker changes. There are four Secretariats: Parliamentary Secretariat, Administrative Secretariat, General Secretariat of the Presidency, and General Coordination Secretariat.

[2] The demand for decentralization and privatization of government functions demand had increased coordination between central governments and service providers, to guarantee their adherence to central government policies and complementarity in producing the inputs needed to provide services. The experience of OECD countries shows that the shift away from the central government’s provision of services has been coupled with an oscillation between greater policy implementation autonomy for service delivery agencies and greater central government control (Gonzalez, Lafuente, 2018). The experience of Latin American countries at the end of the 1990s has advanced towards strengthening fiscal policy and results-based management (World Bank, 2020).

[3] The purpose of the Program was deepening the modernization process that had been carried out in the previous administration through the “Modernization Program of the Honorable Chamber of Deputies of the Nation” (2013/2015 Program). Although the guidelines of the 2013/2015 Program are maintained some changes are introduced. Somehow, the modernization process that later developed in the Administrative Secretary began to be glimpsed in the 2016/2017 Program, since that secretariat is entrusted with: “streamline processes under the systemic approach conducive to the improvement of management, in order to facilitate the administration of information and the systematization of processes; promote transparency; streamline the management of the secretariat transparency; streamline the agency’s management; promote the efficient delivery of services, and strengthen the culture of continuous improvement“.