TSA puts project management on vitamins

Officials from the Transportation Security Administration's Office of Information Technology (OIT) have done the management equivalent of popping a multivitamin.

OIT's Project Control Office (PCO) has bulked up from a disjointed three-person office to a powerhouse that combines the original staff with experts from OIT. Agency officials said the PCO's performance boost has been remarkable.

The idea of a PCO is not novel, but the IT office's approach to creating one is unconventional.

The original PCO, established in September, consisted of two contractors and one government employee. By doubling the contractor staff and adding five government workers in the past month, members of the office now boast better communications, greater efficiency and a tighter business unit. Their primary focus is the billion-dollar Information Technology Managed Services contract with Unisys Corp.

Oddly enough, too much success is the greatest concern for PCO officials. And this potential problem lurks on the horizon, said Andrew Anderson, chief of the project office. The reason for the concern is that officials may be overwhelmed with work as they expand beyond the services contract. The greatest challenge is to remain dynamic and responsive to the agency. "You have to continually think about what's important to management to keep the PCO fresh, updated and renewable," Anderson said.

Because of the PCO's proactive mission, officials strive to remain one step ahead of the demands of agency leaders. "Your boss is worrying about too many things," said Anderson, adding that PCO staff must anticipate leadership demands.

One goal of integrating the office was to more effectively apply employees' expertise. Anderson said the PCO's workload capabilities have exploded. For example, he said, with the restructured office, managers can approach information from a management perspective rather than focus on details. This shift helps PCO officials take proactive steps to oversee budgets, resources and performances.

But it is too early to determine whether the agency's enhanced PCO will set a trend for other agencies looking to invigorate their IT management structure, according to Michael Przepiora, director of OIT's Center for IT Solutions Delivery.

"It's generated a lot of interest," he said. "They've seen our success. ... Over time, it will probably prove itself as the correct practice."

Anderson said the office's transformation sprouted from sound business practices. "The organization was ripe for it," he said. "Could you do the same thing at [the Agriculture Department]? If the timing is right, anything is possible."

Originally, the office had a separate performance manager, quality manager and financial manager report to the IT solutions delivery office. Middle managers largely led a grass-roots campaign to reorganize the information flow and the management structure. The need for consolidation appeared when Przepiora's middle managers suggested improving the structure and efficiency of the PCO.

Since the restructuring, the PCO gained a financial manager, a performance manager and other experts who bolstered the office's performance capability. Consequently, the office can better manage information, analysis, trends and data on the status of all programs to help managers within OIT make smarter decisions.

"Before I had to round up four or five key managers and bring them in to a room to address issues," Przepiora said. "It's easier now because I can communicate with one senior manager to get things done."

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • Social network, census

    5 predictions for federal IT in 2017

    As the Trump team takes control, here's what the tech community can expect.

  • Rep. Gerald Connolly

    Connolly warns on workforce changes

    The ranking member of the House Oversight Committee's Government Operations panel warns that Congress will look to legislate changes to the federal workforce.

  • President Donald J. Trump delivers his inaugural address

    How will Trump lead on tech?

    The businessman turned reality star turned U.S. president clearly has mastered Twitter, but what will his administration mean for broader technology issues?

  • Login.gov moving ahead

    The bid to establish a single login for accessing government services is moving again on the last full day of the Obama presidency.

  • Shutterstock image (by Jirsak): customer care, relationship management, and leadership concept.

    Obama wraps up security clearance reforms

    In a last-minute executive order, President Obama institutes structural reforms to the security clearance process designed to create a more unified system across government agencies.

  • Shutterstock image: breached lock.

    What cyber can learn from counterterrorism

    The U.S. has to look at its experience in developing post-9/11 counterterrorism policies to inform efforts to formalize cybersecurity policies, says a senior official.

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