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OPM.gov / Policy / Training & Development / Career Development / Appendix A: Key Terminology
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Appendix A: Key Terminology

This Appendix section2 outlines common terms related to P/PM. These terms are provided to ensure consistency across agencies in implementing key provisions of the Act, and applicable to PMIAA implementation and guidance only.

  • Program (for PMIAA Implementation): The exercise of delegated or statutory authority to carry out activities, functions or services constitutes the essential purpose for the establishment and continuing existence of an agency; therefore, a program is described as the mission, functions, projects, activities, laws, rules, and regulations which an agency is authorized and funded by statute to administer and enforce.  The focus of a program may be on providing products and services to the public, State and local government, private industry, foreign countries, or Federal agencies.  Additionally, a program may be professional, scientific, technical, administrative, or fiscal in nature.  Typically, programs involve broad objectives, including national defense; law enforcement; public health, safety, and well-being; collection of revenue; regulation of trade; collection and dissemination of information; and the delivery of benefits or services.  However, specialized or staff programs may be considerably narrower in scope (e.g., merit systems protection; nuclear safety; and agency-wide personnel or budget programs).  Programs are usually of such magnitude that they must be carried out through a combination of mission and mission-support functions.  This description of program is adapted from OPM’s definition of program and provided only to inform agency implementation of PMIAA.
  • Program Management: The coordinated application of general and specialized knowledge, skills, expertise, and practices to a program for effective implementation.  Effective program management requires programs be managed by both individuals and organizations as whole that work in concert to achieve benefits and advance outcomes towards the accomplishment of the agency mission, goals, and objectives.
  • Project Management: The coordinated application of general and specialized knowledge, skills, expertise, and practices to a project to achieve its stated goals and outcomes.
  • Project: A temporary endeavor to create a unique product or service with a start date, a completion date, and a defined scope.  Projects are executed in a manner to improve the efficient and effective implementation of program.

Footnote 2

U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s guidance, Improving the Management of Federal Programs and Projects through Implementing PMIAA (2018)

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