Customs creates project management framework

Officials at the new Bureau of Customs and Border Protection know that their information technology managers can be successful only if they are working within a system that supports them.

An IT project at the agency starts with a rigorous approval process that includes outlining the technical approach, costs and strategy of the project. After following strict planning requirements, the project is given the final blessing by an executive review board. Even after the project is funded, quarterly status reports ensure that it is running smoothly.

Only with this demanding approval process can project managers be successful, said S.W. "Woody" Hall, chief information officer at the new bureau. "Training people to be project managers is only part of it," he said. "They need to operate inside a mature program process, or being a good manager won't get you there."

Once the project is under way, Customs project and program managers have three training paths to choose from. First, the George Washington University project management professional development program equips managers with an information certificate after training. Second, the bureau sends managers through training at the National Defense University, where they learn broad skills in management and computer security. Managers also can train through Strategic and Tactical Advocate for Results, a program created by the General Services Administration and the CIO Council for senior federal managers.

The training isn't required, but when vying for a management position, those with training will rise to the top.

"I wanted to put more emphasis on formal training and development of program management," Hall said. "Having trained program management helps you deliver systems more successfully."

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