OPM guides IT manager career track

Recent draft guidance from the Office of Personnel Management intended to help agencies identify leaders for information technology projects extends the project leadership role into upper management and eventually will lead to guidance for other executives deemed vital to e-government, officials said Nov. 4.

Traditionally, project managers have been limited to the upper general service classification levels, often being bumped into general management positions once they moved past the GS-13 or GS-14 level. That is where OPM and the CIO Council started when they were discussing the definition of project managers in today's environment.

However, the draft guide for classifying project managers pushes the position into the GS-15 level, and even the Senior Executive Service, to ensure that agencies can continue to take advantage of the people with the special skills for managing increasingly complex and interagency e-government projects, said Ira Hobbs, co-chairman of the CIO Council's Human Capital Committee and deputy CIO at the Agriculture Department.

This, for the first time, creates a full-fledged job track for project managers and the basis for an inventory across government of the people with different levels of these skills, he said.

"We will create the infrastructure to guarantee that we have the right people in the right jobs," he said.

Agencies have turned in their comments on the draft to OPM, and final guidance on the role of IT project manager is expected to be released before the end of the year, Hobbs said.

The CIO Council is looking at using the final guidance to help agencies identify internal project managers, but also to create a cadre of project managers that can move from organization to organization for large and cross-agency projects, he said. Right now there is no timeframe for when that cadre might be created, he said.

Eventually this guidance will be adapted for other disciplines, including financial management and acquisition.

The guidance also will be the starting point for guidance on another role considered essential for e-government by the Office of Management and Budget, that of solution architect -- people with more technical skills, but who are still able to look across agency needs. This is still in the initial discussion phase because "solution architect is a little bit harder for us to get a handle on,' Hobbs said.

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