Challenges and competencies for project management in the Australian public service
International Journal of Public Sector Management
Article publication date: 10 April 2017
Public sector projects still fail to meet delivery expectations, and the lack of significant project management experience in the Australian public service (APS) has been identified as a contributing factor. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the importance of competencies required for delivering public sector projects, as well as challenges faced by the project managers when operating in a public context.
Qualitative semi-structured interviews were used to enlighten the social and operating construct in APS. In parallel, a quantitative survey was used to determine the relative importance of various competencies to effective project delivery.
The research concludes that communication, accountability, business alignment, scope and deliverables, change, and project and program orientation are the most important competencies in APS project delivery. Furthermore, there is evidence that the operating environment acts as a barrier to successful project delivery, noting that it does not let project management practice deploy its full potential for increased effectiveness and efficiency.
The research findings noted that the specific needs, values and functions of project management in the APS are not well defined, and therefore there were limited criteria against which public sector project management competencies could be designed and measured.
This empirical research contributes to the open dialogue of improving efficiency in project management within the APS context. The findings point to the conflict between the operational nature of APS agencies and their project activities, and how they struggle to define themselves as project organizations rather than lack of appreciation to individual competencies.
Blixt, C. and Kirytopoulos, K. (2017), "Challenges and competencies for project management in the Australian public service", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 286-300. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPSM-08-2016-0132
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