A new law, the Program Management Improvement Accountability Act, underscores the importance of program and project management training in the federal government.
On December 16, 2016, President Obama signed the Program Management Improvement Accountability Act into law. The act, which passed in the Senate with bipartisan support, requires every federal agency (except the Department of Defense) with a Chief Financial Officer to institute a program and project management training and improvement program. The goal is to ensure that program and project management is incorporated into all training and that such training is available to all employees. The law also calls for each agency to designate a senior executive to oversee this process.
NASA is already well positioned to meet the requirements of the new law. The agency has offered project management training through the Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership (APPEL) and its precursor organizations since 1989. Over the years, APPEL has worked hard to raise the training to a world-class level, with courses and resources that are designed to address the wide variety of dimensions involved with complex projects. Importantly, APPEL aligns its courses with agency needs by linking training opportunities to project management competencies that the agency considers critical to project success. The Academy also maintains awareness of requirements from external stakeholders, such as the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), to confirm the curriculum reflects current recommendations.
The strength of APPEL’s offerings has been recognized both internally and externally. Over the past decade, the Academy has participated in several benchmarking studies of project management development programs that have validated the quality of its courses. Human Systems International, a subsidiary of the Project Management Institute (PMI)®, ranked APPEL the top project academy in the world in its past three global benchmarking surveys. The International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) has twice recognized APPEL’s contributions to training and continuing education with its Exemplar Training Organization Award. In 2016, NASA granted APPEL the Group Achievement Award for providing world-class training to help ensure agency project managers and systems engineers have the skills and knowledge needed to advance mission success.
We encourage NASA civil servants interested in pursuing program and project management training in compliance with the new law to explore APPEL’s offerings. Project managers and systems engineers can benefit from the diverse range of courses designed to meet their needs. Other members of the NASA workforce may appreciate such courses as Project Management for Non-Technical Managers, which introduces the tools and techniques of project management and explores how they can be applied toward a variety of initiatives.
Going forward, APPEL is committed to further supporting NASA in fulfilling the requirements of the Program Management Improvement Accountability Act.