Letters to the editor
'One Size Fits All' Too Tight
The following is a response to an FCW.com poll question that asked: "Should federal IT project managers be made to qualify for their jobs?"
Unfortunately, the "one-size-fits-all" approach creates a new set of aggravating circumstances that organizations will face when relying on certifications to mitigate existing project management problems.
To entrust an organization's budget, resources, products and services to a piece of paper would be crass. I have more than 20 years of experience in the private sector and remain an advocate of sound business management fundamentals that can be applied in government.
Certifications are a good measure of practical and theoretical application to business cases and situational management in academia, private industry and government. However, it would be risky to assume that a certification qualifies an individual to deliver a product or service within the budgeted time and cost.
In terms of delivering information technology projects within time and cost, I have always subscribed to five basic skill areas for accountability and predictability:
* Time management (i.e., critical path method scheduling).
* Cost management (estimating, activity-based cost accounting, earned-value management).
* Software quality assurance (defect management, metrics management).
* Scope management (business/system requirements).
* Customer expectations management (change management).
While I agree with some of the project management skill areas established by organizations like Project Management Institute Inc. and Carnegie-Mellon University, I also say that "paper project managers" are too immersed in theory-based bodies of knowledge. A certified project manager may have a focus on organizational behaviors, operational measurements and capability maturity models, but these dashboard metrics do not necessarily guarantee solutions.
Kenji Brown Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Licensing Trap
The following is a response to an FCW.com poll question that asks: "Do you think the proposed enterprise software licensing concept is worth the effort?" It is also related to the May 5 cover story: "OMB crafts enterprise licensing plan."
Although the idea seems sound, it still traps the public into buying proprietary goods and services without opening up the field. It hinders competition.
I would think it would be a good idea if the Office of Management and Budget considered setting up and reviewing open-source or GNU Project General Public License products and vendors. Without that, it eventually will perpetuate a stagnation of technology innovation.
I know the economies of scale involved, but if the public interest is not being served by realizing better solutions for projects, then we are just going down the same paths crossed before.
Going Too Far
The following are responses to a May 12 FCW story, "Survey: IT worker demand down."
I would submit that with company consolidations, mergers and hostile takeovers — and the subsequent purging of employees — this survey might skew what is going on inside both the federal sector and private industry.
If there are fewer companies and organizations, and further consolidations, would one really expect to see an increase in hiring activity? Even the federal government is proposing further consolidations and is not considering the total downstream ramifications of going too far (see the FCW editorial, "Consolidation gone too far," April 28). Given the current pressures on agencies to further outsource functions, one can also see trends across the federal sector of management running IT organizations as though they were private industry software houses with associated managing practices.
One might ask, if the drawdown goes too far, will we sacrifice quality of services and support for the sake of the "perceived" bottom line reductions in staff size?
Your story once again drives home the hypocrisy of Corporate America. Corporations embraced and exploited the "United We Stand" slogan in ads following Sept. 11, 2001. Corporations have the national, state and corporate flags waving high and prominently in front of their headquarters. Then, company executives send all the jobs overseas.
Then, the corporate board and management are perplexed as to why American workers aren't committed anymore. Why American workers lack that good old Protestant work ethic.
All the while, corporate management and officers are locking in fat salaries and raises, options, pensions and other benefits even as the company loses 95 percent of its value or goes bankrupt.
Is this a great country or what?