Managing Public Sector Projects: A Strategic Framework for Success in an Era of Downsized Government / Edition 1

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Filling a gap in project management literature, Managing Public Sector Projects: A Strategic Framework for Success in an Era of Downsized Government supplies managers and administrators-at all levels of government-with expert guidance on all aspects of public sector project management. From properly allocating risks in drafting contracts to dealing with downsized staffs and privatized services, this book clearly explains the technical concepts and the political issues involved.

In line with the principles of Total Quality Management (TQM) and the PMBOK® (Project Management Body of Knowledge), David S. Kassel establishes a framework those in the public sector can follow to ensure the success of their public projects and programs. He supplies more than 30 real-life examples to illustrate the concepts behind the framework-including reconstruction projects in Iraq, the Big Dig project in Boston, local sewer system and library construction projects, and software technology.

This authoritative resource provides strategic recommendations for effective planning, execution, and maintenance of public projects. It also

Highlights the differences between managing projects in the public sector versus the private sector

Explains how to scrutinize costs, performance claims, and the backgrounds of prospective contractors

Presents key safeguards that should be included in all contracts with contractors, consultants, suppliers, and other service providers

Details the basics of project cost estimation, design and scheduling, and how to hold contractors responsible for meeting established project standards

In an age of downsized government and in the face of a general distrust of public service, this book is a dependable guide for avoiding management practices that are common to projects that fail and for adopting the practices common to projects that succeed in terms of cost, schedule, and quality.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
... presents a systematic and coherent approach to the management of important projects … an important volume not only for public sector project management, but for the much broader field of public management. … This book is very much about the future of government.
—From the Foreword by Marc Holzer, Dean of the School of Public Affairs and Public Administration, Rutgers University, and Executive Director of the National Center for Public Performance

It arrives in the wake of the "D" grade for the condition of our infrastructure assigned by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the significant funds for infrastructure investment appropriated under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The book provides practical tools to avoid the all too usual problems that have plagued public projects. It focuses on the unique features of the public sector compared to the private. The book effectively illustrates its points with many short case studies. Examples involving mistakes are discussed constructively rather than to assign blame. Instances of success are helpfully included as well.
—Dr. Paul F. Mlakar, P.E., Senior research scientist at the Corps of Engineers Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA

... an excellent project management guide. The book offers a treasure-trove of lessons that can be learned from the real life project examples that he provides of public sector projects and construction programs.
—Patti M. Jones, Founder and President of CDR Consultants, a Management Consulting Services company for the construction industry

Bookstores are full of resources for managing projects. Unfortunately for the public sector manager, these resources rarely provide guidance in addressing the unique challenges that arise in government projects. Dave's book fills that gap. This guidebook is filled with practical advice, colorful examples, and the theoretical background that will help public managers succeed.
—Robert McGowan. Principal management auditor, King County Auditor’s Office, Washington, USA

... a highly thought-provoking and insightful book about procuring and managing public construction projects. It promises to be a valuable read for both practitioners and policy makers.
—Claude Lancome, Executive V. P., Coast and Harbor Associates, Inc., a Massachusetts-based public owner’s project management firm

Although there are some books that provide insight into project management, few are written for practitioners in the public and not-for-profit sectors who are also students. The practical information in Mr. Kassel’s book provides insight into how those in the public and not-for-profit sectors can integrate the various components of project management into their required tasks. The examples are contemporary and are drawn from a wide range of topic areas.This book should be helpful for many individuals who have projects, both large and small, that need to be implemented.
—Dr. Paulette Laubsch, DPA, Associate Professor, School of Administrative Science Fairleigh Dickinson University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

David Kassel is the principal of Accountable Strategies Consulting, LLC, a research, analysis, and management consulting firm for organizations in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. He was formerly chief of the management division of the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General and prior to that was a senior research analyst with the Post Audit and Oversight Committee Bureau of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He has also previously worked as a State House reporter for daily newspapers in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

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Table of Contents

Foreword xv

Preface xix

Introduction xxi

Acknowledgments xxvii

1 Introducing Public Sector Project Management 1

Public Sector Project Management-Getting beyond the Confusion 2

What Are Public Projects? 2

Journalists' Questions 3

What Is Public Sector Project Management? 5

The Project Vision 5

Financing Public Projects 6

Project versus Program and General Management 7

Who Are the Public Sector Project Managers? 8

Types of Public Sector Project Managers 9

Skills, Attributes, and Requirements of Public Sector Project Managers 11

Continuity and Change in Public Sector Project Management 11

Leadership and Managerial Competencies 11

Ethics and Internal Controls 13

Rules and Regulations 14

Downsized Government and "the Hollow State" 15

Bashing the Bureaucracy 16

Managerial and Political Pushback 16

Political Ideology 17

How Public Projects Succeed and Fail 18

Endnotes 19

2 A Strategic Framework for Public Sector Project Management 23

The Framework and the Principal-Agent Challenge 25

Framework Element 1 Starting with the Right Plan 25

Framework Element 2 Selecting the Right Agents 27

Selecting the Most Experienced and Motivated Agents 28

Framework Element 3 Entering into the Right Agreements 29

Allocating Contract Risk 30

Contracts and Asymmetry of Information 33

Framework Element 4 Monitoring and Controlling the Project Execution 33

Ensuring Adequate Information about the Project Work 34

Enforcing Appropriate Agreements 35

Framework Element 5 Maintaining Active Involvement in the Operation and Maintenance of the Asset or Assets Created by the Project 36

Placing the Strategic Management Framework in Context 37

Endnotes 38

3 Project Planning, Part 1: Getting the Concept Right 41

Getting It Right: The Preliminary Steps of Public Sector Project Planning 43

Identifying the Correct Problem 45

Questioning Presumptions 47

Understanding the Project Context and Stakeholders 51

Understanding and Complying with Legal Requirements 52

Developing Realistic Preliminary Project Cost Estimates 56

Analogy-Based and Parametric Cost Estimating 57

Life-Cycle and Independent Cost Estimates 58

Concluding the Preliminary Project Planning Phase with a Feasibility Study 59

Endnotes 61

4 Project Planning, Part 2: Developing and Refining the Process 65

The Project Accountability Structure 66

Establishing the Right Project Internal Control Structure 66

The GAO's Five Standards for Internal Controls 67

Control Environment 67

Risk Assessment 67

Control Activities 68

Control Activities Specific for Information Systems 68

Information and Communications 68

Monitoring 69

Project Documentation 69

Preventing Fraud in Public Projects 74

Developing Clear Project Specifications 75

Specifications and Alternative Project Delivery Methods 78

Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity Contracts 80

Performance versus Design Specifications 82

Concluding the Intermediate Planning Stage 84

Endnotes 85

5 Project Planning, Part 3: Finalizing the Process 89

Developing the Project Schedule 89

Owner's Schedule in a Design-Bid-Build Public Construction Project 91

Scheduling the Project Work 95

The Work Breakdown Structure 95

Development of a Logic Diagram 97

Determination of the Schedule's "Critical Path" 98

Putting It All Together: The Importance of Realistic Scheduling 100

Refining Project Cost and Risk Estimates 100

Refining the Cost Estimate 101

Refining Risk Assessments 102

Technology Risks 103

Brainstorming and Sensitivity Analysis in Assessing Risks 104

Putting It All Together: Developing Realistic Presumptions behind Cost and Risk Estimates 105

Questioning Presumptions 106

Moving from a Realistic Cost Estimate to an Affordable Project Budget 107

Presenting Cost Estimates and Budgets to Project Stakeholders 108

Pulling Together the Planning Steps 109

Endnotes 112

6 Selecting the Best Agents, Part 1: Building the Project Team 115

Who Is on the Project Management Team? 116

What Are the Team Dynamics? 116

Establishing a Cohesive and Committed Team 117

Ensuring That Team Personnel Are Qualified 121

The Need for Clear Lines of Authority and Communication 123

Maintaining Clear Lines of Authority When Using Contractors 123

Ensuring an Appropriate Managerial Accountability Structure 126

Coaching the Team on Legal Requirements and Ethical Practices 130

Motivating the Project Team 131

Endnotes 134

7 Selecting the Best Agent, Part 2: Contractors and Consultants 137

Procuring Contractors and Consultants 138

Public Sector Procurement Rules 138

Key Characteristics of a Successful Procurement System 139

Successful Public Procurement Characteristic #1 Transparency 140

Successful Public Procurement Characteristic #2 Accountability 141

Successful Public Procurement Characteristic #3 Integrity 143

Successful Public Procurement Characteristic #4 Competition 146

Barriers to Competition in Long-Term Contracting 149

Proprietary Specifications 151

Successful Public Procurement Characteristic #5 Organizational Alignment and Leadership 151

Successful Public Procurement Characteristic #6 Human Capital Management 152

Successful Public Procurement Characteristic #7 Knowledge and Information Management 152

Successful Procurement Characteristic #8 Due Diligence in Selecting Contractors and Consultants 154

Selecting the Best Agents: Putting It All Together 154

Endnotes 155

8 Enacting Advantageous Agreements 159

The Essential Elements of Contracts 160

Allocating Contract Risks 160

The Contract Pricing Structure 161

Firm-Fixed-Price Contracts 162

Fixed-Price Incentive Contracts 162

Cost-Reimbursement Contracts 163

Cost-Plus-Fixed-Fee Contracts 163

Cost-Plus-Incentive-Fee and Cost-Plus-Award-Fee Contracts 164

Getting the Incentives Right 164

Cost-Plus-a-Percentage-of-Cost Contracts 166

The Contract Pricing Structure and Project Planning 166

Contract Provisions and Project Risk 168

Implied Warranties and Duties 171

Express Contractual Guarantees and Warranties 172

Breach-or-Contract Provisions 174

Clear Scopes of Work 174

Endnotes 176

9 Controlling Public Projects 179

Measuring Project Progress 179

Updating Project Records 181

Analyzing the Project Data Using Earned Value Management 183

Evaluating and Correcting Project Problems 187

Focusing on Quality in Projects 188

Controlling Cost Growth and Cost Overruns 190

Enforcing Agreements 193

Partnering and Change Orders 195

Keeping Stakeholders Informed of the Project's Progress 195

Endnotes 196

10 Project Closeout and Beyond 199

Final Steps in the Closeout Process 200

Evaluating the Contractor 200

Publicizing the Completed Project 201

The Project or Program Operational Stage 201

Maintaining Public Projects over the Long Term 203

Conclusion 207

Endnotes 208

Appendix 1 Discussion Examples Used in This Book 211

Appendix 2 Master List of Tips for Success for Public Sector Project Managers 215

Project Planning: Getting the Concept Right 215

A Correctly identifying the problem 215

B Questioning presumptions 216

C Understanding the project context and stakeholders 216

D Developing realistic preliminary project cost and risk estimates 216

2 Developing and Refining Project Planning (internal controls and project specifications) 217

A Establishing the right project internal control structure 217

B Two important project control activities 217

C Developing clear project specifications 217

D Specifications and alternative project delivery methods 218

E Performance versus design specifications 218

3 Finalizing Project Planning (schedule and cost estimation) 218

A Developing the project schedule 218

B Scheduling the project work 219

C Refining the cost estimate 219

D Refining risk assessments 219

E Developing realistic presumptions behind cost and risk estimates 220

4 Building the Project Team 220

A Establishing a committed and cohesive team 220

B Ensuring the team personnel are qualified 220

C The need for clear lines of authority and communication 221

D Ensuring an appropriate managerial accountability system 221

E Coaching the project team on legal requirements and ethical practices 221

F Motivating the project team 222

5 Procuring Contractors and Consultants 222

A Successful public procurement characteristic: Transparency 222

B Successful public procurement characteristic: Accountability 222

C Successful public procurement characteristic: Integrity 223

D Successful public procurement characteristic: Competition 223

E Successful public procurement characteristic: Knowledge and information management 223

F Successful procurement characteristic: Due diligence in selecting contractors and consultants 224

6 Enacting Advantageous Agreements 224

A The contract pricing structure 224

B Contract provisions and project risk 224

C Clear scopes of work 225

7 Controlling Public Projects 225

A Measuring project progress 225

B Updating project records 225

C Analyzing the project data 225

D Evaluating and correcting project problems 226

E Focusing on quality in projects 226

F Controlling cost growth and cost overruns 226

8 Project Closeout and Beyond 227

A Final steps in the closeout process 227

B The project or program operational stage 227

C Maintaining public projects over the long term 227

Appendix 3 Websites of Interest to Public Sector Project Managers 229

American Academy of Certified Public Managers 229

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) 229

American Management Association 230

American National Standards Institute (ANSI) 230

American Public Works Association 230

American Society for Quality 230

The Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE International) 230

Building Design and Construction 230

Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) 231

Construction Management Association of America 231

The Construction Specifications Institute 231

Defense Contract Audit Agency 231

Defense Contract Management Agency 231

Federal Acquisition Institute 231

Federal Acquisition Regulation Homepage 232

Federal Business Opportunities 232

International Cost Engineering Council 232

The International Council on Systems Engineering 232

The International Journal of Project Management 232

The National Center for Public Productivity 232

The National Certified Public Manager Consortium 233

Past Performance Information Retrieval System 233

Project Management Institute 233

The Public Manager 233

Public Works Management and Policy 233

R.S. Means 233

The Society of Cost Estimating and Analysis 234

The United States Government Accountability Office 234

The University of Wisconsin Certified Public Manager Program 234

References 235

Index 245

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Managing Public Sector Projects is a Must Read Book

    Valuable examples of both successful and disastrous attempts at project management are presented in David Kassel's book. Unique features include the focus on public projects, managing projects when budgets are tight, and emphasis on ethics in government procurement. I highly recommend David's book.

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    Posted May 14, 2010

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