Transforming local government by project portfolio management: Identifying and overcoming control problems

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose – As public organizations strive for higher e-government maturity, Project Portfolio Management (IT PPM) has become a high priority issue. Assuming control is central in IT PPM, we investigate how a Danish local government conducts control in IT PPM; we identify control problems and formulate recommendations to address these.

Design/methodology/approach – Adopting principles from Engaged Scholarship, we have conducted a case study using a wide variety of data collection methods, including 29 interviews, one workshop, and analyses of documents.

Findings – We find that the local government vastly relies on informal control mechanisms and identify five control problems: (1) weak accountability processes between the political and administrative level, (2) weak accountability between the director level and the IT executives, (3) IT projects established on the basis of incomplete information about internal resources, (4) lack of operational goals to hold IT projects accountable, (5) no account of actual IT project costs. We propose a model for highlighting how more formal control can be implemented and address the identified control problems.

Research limitations/implications – As a single qualitative case study, the results are limited to one organization and subject.

Practical implications – The paper has implications for IT PPM in Danish local governments and similar organizations in other countries. We show that the lack of formal control mechanisms makes accountability between hierarchical levels difficult, which deprives organizations of the opportunity to pursue and display unambiguous value from their e-government initiatives.

Originality/value – This paper fulfills an identified need to understand how local governments can improve IT PPM.

Keywords – IT Project Portfolio Management, e-government, Control theory, control problems, formal mechanisms, informal mechanisms.

Article type – Case study
Close

Details

Purpose – As public organizations strive for higher e-government maturity, Project Portfolio Management (IT PPM) has become a high priority issue. Assuming control is central in IT PPM, we investigate how a Danish local government conducts control in IT PPM; we identify control problems and formulate recommendations to address these.

Design/methodology/approach – Adopting principles from Engaged Scholarship, we have conducted a case study using a wide variety of data collection methods, including 29 interviews, one workshop, and analyses of documents.

Findings – We find that the local government vastly relies on informal control mechanisms and identify five control problems: (1) weak accountability processes between the political and administrative level, (2) weak accountability between the director level and the IT executives, (3) IT projects established on the basis of incomplete information about internal resources, (4) lack of operational goals to hold IT projects accountable, (5) no account of actual IT project costs. We propose a model for highlighting how more formal control can be implemented and address the identified control problems.

Research limitations/implications – As a single qualitative case study, the results are limited to one organization and subject.

Practical implications – The paper has implications for IT PPM in Danish local governments and similar organizations in other countries. We show that the lack of formal control mechanisms makes accountability between hierarchical levels difficult, which deprives organizations of the opportunity to pursue and display unambiguous value from their e-government initiatives.

Originality/value – This paper fulfills an identified need to understand how local governments can improve IT PPM.

Keywords – IT Project Portfolio Management, e-government, Control theory, control problems, formal mechanisms, informal mechanisms.

Article type – Case study
Original languageEnglish
JournalTransforming Government: People, Process and Policy
Volume7
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)50-75
ISSN1750-6166
DOI
StatePublished - 11 Mar 2013
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes
EventBrunel - Business School, Brunel Univeristy, West London, UB8 3PH, United Kingdom., London , United Kingdom
Duration: 8 May 20129 Jun 2012

Conference

ConferenceBrunel
LocationBusiness School, Brunel Univeristy, West London, UB8 3PH, United Kingdom.
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityLondon
Period08/05/201209/06/2012

Activities

Projects

ID: 65437426