Project + Government = Change

Kenneth has 14 years of healthcare experience in government and private industry. Over eight years of experience managing healthcare IT projects, operations, contracts, and personnel. His work experience includes project management, contracts and procurements, data analysis, claims adjudication, business writing, and business process modeling. Kenneth was certified in 2006 as a Project Management Professional.

Being a project manager in the public sector can be very different than in the private sector. This holds true if the project manager is working directly for the government or as a private contractor performing work for a government agency. Being aware of the differences and knowing how to approach certain issues will be a great benefit to the project manager. The public sector has a much different culture than the private sector, and this can create special issues for the project manager and barriers for the project.

All organizations experience change in leadership and management, but in government there is a built-in process to enable regular change, namely elections. Many agency heads are elected or appointed by elected officials, and this happens every two or four years. Depending on the politics involved, a project manager could be dealing with a seismic shift in an organization when the project work is at a critical junction. When the leaders of an organization change, they often make more changes that ripple through the organization. This could include turnover within the upper and middle management level--and even a shift in the primary mission of the agency. There are usually two reactions in an organization to these times of turmoil:

  • Some people will keep their heads down and attempt to ride out the storm; often, these are the workers that keep the …

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