Two American notables — former President Bill Clinton and current Federal CIO Vivek Kundra — appeared separately on stage at The Project Management Institute’s (PMI)® annual Global Congress 2010 taking place this week in Washington, D.C.
First up, Kundra, who was appointed as the US chief information officer by President Obama in March 2009. Prior to joining the Obama administration, Kundra served as the chief technology officer for the District of Columbia responsible for technology operations and strategy for 86 agencies and as the dual-role Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Kundra’s talk focused on the need for transparency in the $80 billion of U.S. government IT projects. According to Jesse Fewell, author of the book, Moving Beyond Management, and who posted tweets through jessefewell, Kundra has specific insights into achieving change in government IT. First, there are a few things to recognize: Government has created a culture where process trumps business outcomes. Second, “government projects incur a Gordian knot of growing complexity, spending more time on reporting than executing.”
The antidote: Shine the light on CIOs, kill projects that aren’t meeting their goals; and reform federal IT. The latter includes moving from megalithic, multi-year projects to much faster results. The goal, he reminded attendees, “is not a green status; the goal is delivering business results.”
The evening keynoter was Clinton, who opened his speech on “Embracing Our Common Humanity” with, “I am fascinated by project management.” His definition of what a project manager does: “Turning good intentions into positive outcomes. That’s what project managers do.” His recommendation when people ask what a PM does: “Tell them you’re in the ‘how’ business.”
Clinton has had need of PMs in multiple ways. Projects at the William J. Clinton Foundation, which he established since leaving the White House, include the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative (now the Clinton Health Access Initiative, a separate nonprofit organization) which is helping two million people living with HIV/AIDS to gain access to lifesaving drugs. Other efforts — including the Clinton Climate Initiative, the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative, and the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative — are applying a business-oriented approach to fight climate change and develop sustainable economic growth in Africa and Latin America. The Clinton Global Initiative brings together global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the worlds most pressing issues. In America the foundation is working to combat the rise in childhood obesity through the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
In addition to his Foundation work, Clinton has joined with former President George H.W. Bush three timesafter the 2004 tsunami in South Asia, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and Hurricane Ike in 2008to help raise money for recovery efforts Recently he was named U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti to assist its people and government as they build back better from recent storm damages and implement their economic vision for the future.
Clinton closed his talk pushing attendees to get involved in Haiti’s rebuilding.