Study finds shortcomings in government management

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American Inc. study

A new study has found discrepancies between how the American public perceives the efficiency of government management and how government managers rate their programs.

In a survey, 89 percent of Americans gave the federal government grades of C, D or F when asked if they were satisfied with the government’s management practices. The same percentage expressed dissatisfaction with the way the government spends tax dollars, and 66 percent admitted that they don’t understand how the government spends money.

In a separate survey, most federal managers seemed content with the state of government management, at least on a broad level. Sixty-one percent don’t think their agencies need to reform program management, and 80 percent reported that their management systems meet or exceed basic requirements.

The study, America Inc.: Annual Shareholder Management Report, was done by Primavera Systems, a provider of project and portfolio management software, and O’Keeffe and Company, an advertising, marketing and public-relations firm. It was based on an online survey of 677 respondents representing a cross-section of the American public and on a separate online poll of 151 federal managers representing various executive levels, researchers said.

Federal managers expressed overall satisfaction with their programs, but the survey revealed some specific program and project management shortcomings. For example, 69 percent reported that only one in five projects finish on budget and on time, and 60 percent said they spend half their time or less working on projects with measurable objectives.

“When you look at the macro level, managers think that everything is fine, but when you get into more specific questions, people tend to answer [based on] how it applies to them,” said Margo Visitacion, industry market manager of public-sector aerospace and defense at Primavera.

The study also found that the majority of Americans want more visibility into how agencies manage programs. However, only 10 percent said they understand the President’s Management Agenda, President Bush’s initiative to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of government.

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