5 Reasons Why Program Management is Essential in Federal Contracting

  • Article

At GovCIO, we understand the pivotal role that program management plays in guaranteeing the success of our initiatives, both for our organization and for our valued customers. Discover the significance of program management in federal contracting and learn how GovCIO’s trailblazing program managers are shaping our organization for continued growth.

Bernadette Tavela, Program Manager, SANDBAR

Bernadette Tauvela was named GovCIO’s Program Manager of the Year in 2023. Bernadette provides valuable insight into her role and successes in Foreign Military Sales (FMS), highlighting how knowledge expansion has lead to her and her team’s growth.


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1. Pave

A program manager is responsible for overseeing various ongoing activities within an organization. Instead of simply executing any project that comes along, the program manager evaluates the potential return on investment (ROI) of each project. Every project should:

  • Contribute to increasing company profits
  • Enhancing customer satisfaction
  • Advancing the organization’s bottom line

If a project does not lend to the above results, the company risks wasting its time and resources. It’s the responsibility of the program management team to determine which projects are worth pursuing and which are not.


2. Open

Program managers dedicate significant time to communication. Whether through email or face-to-face interactions, they engage with their teams, suppliers, distributors, and other stakeholders. This communication, collaboration, and cross-functional coordination fosters two-way communication within an organization, which is essential for productivity. While project managers focus on delivering specific outcomes, program managers are accountable for guiding the organization and all its members towards achieving strategic objectives.

Jim Deak, Sr. Program Manager, TIS

"...That was really achieved by building a team that worked together, that blurred the lines between customer and contractor and got everybody on the same page and mission."

Jim (James) Deak
Sr. Program Manager
3. Contribute

Implementing a robust program management strategy offers organizations a deeper insight into scope of a project since there are usually multiple projects being carried out simultaneously to form a program.

This approach provides the program manager with comprehensive data during project execution. It is also the responsibility of the program manager to guarantee that the objectives of one project do not conflict with those of another. Since the program manager is overseeing all projects, this allows for a better view of the overall processes within the organization.


4. Enhance

Conflicts are inevitable in any organization, and if left unaddressed, they can escalate and disrupt harmony among individuals and departments. The program manager’s responsibility includes swiftly identifying and managing conflicts, whether they involve employees or projects. With a clear hierarchical structure in place within the program, the program manager ensures efficient management of individuals, teams, and departments to prevent any overstepping.

Having a program manager onboard ensures smooth project execution, as they establish the framework for all teams and project managers to follow. This proactive approach aids in identifying and resolving conflicts before they escalate, ultimately safeguarding project completion.

Chenyu Fan, Deputy Program Manager, NEDIIS

"What I'm most proud of is growing the contract to over 200-plus people [and] exceeding the customer's expectations, which allows us to continually grow the contract and have more coverage within the VA."

Chenyu Fan
Deputy Program Manager
5. Advance

The program manager evaluates all organizational requests, consolidating them to achieve efficiencies of scale. This means initiating single project efforts that meet the needs of multiple functional groups. For example, if a company’s software department creates a program to streamline daily status reports for management across finance, operations, and marketing, this would require three separate projects with distinct budgets. However, with a program manager, costs can be reduced by consolidating similar projects or strategies.

In today’s competitive landscape, program management aligns schedules, coordinates resource allocation, defines interfaces, and enhances overall risk management within organizations.

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Black and white photograph of Mount Rushmore.