Project Management

The Agenda

Aaron is the former editor of

With the federal mandate to improve IT performance, agencies such as USDA, HUD and Customs aren't standing still (or alone).

Consider: with $72 billion in annual spending, a workforce of more than 112,000 people and $123 billion in assets, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is about the same size as private-sector giant General Electric. But unlike a corporation, USDA's success or failure—and the success or failure of all 26 federal agencies—is ultimately based on serving the nation's citizens, not growing profits. From farming subsidies and school lunches to forest conservation and food inspection, USDA defines and measures its goals much differently than a shareholder-driven enterprise. But in meeting their mission, USDA and other public-sector agencies must still manage information technology with increasing sophistication, or falter.

That modern reality is the driving force behind federal mandates, most notably the President's Management Agenda, intended to improve how federal IT projects perform. To gain insight into these efforts, [email protected] talked to IT leaders at USDA as well as the Office of Management and Budget, Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. We also interviewed consultants and solutions providers working with federal agencies on project management training, systems implementations and collaboration …

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"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."

- Bertrand Russell