DOD: Building a baseline of competency

For the past decade, the department has had a formal structure for training and certifying project managers, said Charles Tompkins, a professor at National Defense University's Information Resources Management College. Certification is required for all major project managers, he said, guaranteeing a baseline of competency. "With the formal education and certification process, senior managers and [chief information officers] have a little higher level of assurance of the background of the people they are putting in management positions," said Tompkins, acting chairman of the Information Systems Acquisition Department. The requirements stem from the 1991 Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act, which sought to ensure that qualified project managers were leading multimillion-dollar defense projects, he said. Managers must complete general education requirements, including earning a degree in an information technology discipline, completion of formal training courses and logging a given number of years of service in a program. The Information Resources Management (IRM) College's IT project management courses focus on a broad spectrum of management issues, such as assessing project performance and managing cost schedules. They are rolled into a five-day intensive course offered about five times a year, Tompkins said. Although most students are from DOD, about 25 percent hail from other agencies. The courses may come from IRM or other organizations, but the actual certification comes from DOD's commander, Tompkins said. Managers are certified on three levels, depending on the scale of the project. "The practical result of the certification is that you meet the formal prerequisite for promotion to the next position," Tompkins said. "The bigger benefit is to be able to do things smarter." As Office of Management and Budget officials focus on a need for good project managers, other agencies might want to look at DOD's certification program, Tompkins said. "The same benefit would exist for other departments as well," he said. "At DOD — while our mission is unique — many of the things we do day in and day out, particularly in the information technology area, are not so unique. The problems we face are not much different from problems other agencies face."

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group