Letter from Managing Director, PMI India   |   Download a PDF version     

Panel Discussion
Institutionalizing Project Management in the Government Realm

Mr. Sanjib Das (extreme left) moderating the discussions between Mr. Jayesh Rajan, Mr. Hariranjan Rao, and Dr. Sanjeevan Bajaj

Moderator: Mr. Sanjib Das, senior director and head - service delivery, Ericsson India

Mr. Jayesh Rajan
IAS, commissioner, industries, commerce and export promotion, Government of Telangana

Mr. Hariranjan Rao
IAS, secretary, information technology and public service management, Government of Madhya Pradesh

Dr. Sanjeevan Bajaj
CEO, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Quality Forum

Mr. Das: Data shows that in India, 50-60 percent of projects have budget or time overrun. According to McKinsey, India could suffer a GDP loss of $200 billion by 2017 if trends continue. What immediate steps are needed to correct this scenario?

Mr. Rajan: There is no arm in the government today that doesn’t think project management is not needed. There are a lot of gaps in execution. We need to put greater reliance on public private partnerships (PPP). There are two important features in PPP projects. Sometimes we are so anxious to get projects off the ground that half-baked proposals get passed. Lack of coordination is the second problem. Sometimes a project gets stuck because there is no agreement on clauses that need to be amended later. We need the right business acumen to relook at clause changes.

Dr. Bajaj: Projects are sometimes planned, stopped, and executed. In the private sector, there is widespread realization that you need project management credentials, and clients insist on PMP® certifications for project managers, whereas there is no such emphasis in government undertakings. It is assumed that a good administrator will also make a good project manager.

Mr. Rao: Government projects are badly structured, and designed to get delayed. There is a lack of dedicated project management teams, less flexibility to hire manpower, and inadequate use of IT and tools. Typically, government contracts are straitjacketed; there is a need to look at international best practices and standardize documents. The entire decision-making process needs to be re-engineered and processes have to be streamlined. Nobody is held accountable in the government; this has to change.

Mr. Das: Mission mode projects for e-governance are wellstructured and linked to public service management. How can that approach be extended to other projects?

Mr. Rao: The implementation of mission mode projects is unique in Madhya Pradesh where a complete institutional overhauling is being carried out. We are hiring IT professionals from the market, many of which are PMP® certified, and offering compensation on par with that of the private sector. Government employees are being sent for the PMP® certification. Even the lowest level government functionary should be able to appreciate the nuances of project management.

Mr. Das: What do we need to stop, change, and continue?

Mr. Rajan: Project delays are causing us a national loss. We must replicate the good work that another department has done, for example, what Mr. Rao has done in Madhya Pradesh. We must institutionalize a mechanism to learn and adopt.

Dr. Sanjeevan: The principles in international best practices, rather than the practice itself, must be replicated. For instance, the Delhi Metro is an exemplary project, and the goal should be how to replicate it in a different context.

Mr. Rao: We have to start thinking differently, stop procrastinating, and continue with the efforts… the results will accrue.

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