Todd C. Williams, PMP, is an executive consultant with three decades of experience helping organizations connect strategy to successful projects. He has worked with startups and multi-billion dollar companies. He is a prolific writer sharing his wisdom and experience so that others can succeed. He has authored two books: Filling Execution Gaps: How Executives And Project Managers Turn Corporate Strategy Into Successful Projects (De Gruyter, 2017) and Rescue the Problem Project: A Complete Guide to Identifying, Preventing, and Recovering from Project Failure (AMACOM, 2011).
"The government is incapable of running projects. Their miserably high failure rates prove that governments should be out of the project management business."
So said one of the people sitting across the table at a recent meeting I attended. I remained silent waiting to hear what others would say. Indeed, I have heard similar statements many times and question their validity. Granted, there seems to be plenty of examples of failures in government projects.
However, I rarely hear objective reasons for why these projects fail. Nor do I see any data comparing them to private sector projects. The reason? The prognosticators purporting this are part of the problem. They are making broad generalizations based on what they have heard on the nightly news.
A few years ago, though, I tried to get closer to the truth by candidly and confidentially interviewing a number of government executives and project managers to gather their views. Following is a summary of those conversations.