It's all about program management

When the homeland security directive comes down, outlining requirements and offering grant money, states and localities may have a tough time knowing where to start

When the homeland security directive comes down from Washington, D.C., outlining requirements and offering grant money, states and localities may have a tough time knowing where to start. States will have to struggle with "what to implement first, where to focus their investments and how to link their initiatives together," said Andrew Anderson, vice president of operations for state and local government at consulting firm Robbins-Gioia LLC.

The solution, many have noted, lies in implementing solid program management, a discipline that promises to grow in popularity, especially as federal and state officials begin to consolidate activities across departments and jurisdictions. Some states will set up their own program management offices, while others will choose to outsource the function.

Either way, effective program management will be critical to success in the homeland security arena, said Cheryl Janey, vice president of state and local programs for Northrop Grumman Corp. "The whole program management effort is not fully appreciated upfront by many government organizations," she said.

Among the services that program management can offer government entities grappling with homeland security issues are the following:

• Requirements definition. Deciding what is needed.

• Requirements management. Managing the changes involved with those needs.

• Vendor selection and management. Determining what companies are best suited for each initiative and then coordinating and managing their various schedules, budgets and performance metrics.

• Portfolio management. Providing a disciplined way to analyze, select, and control projects and initiatives.

• Setting up an in-house portfolio management office. This includes helping the organization set up routines and outline methods for tracking schedules and budgets.

Program management provides a management infrastructure that enables solid decision-making and ongoing control of initiatives — especially homeland security ones.

"As requirements change and new threats emerge, this management and decision- making structure becomes more important so that changes to strategy can be implemented quickly," Anderson said.

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