NAPA and PMI Release New Report: "Building an Agile Federal Government: A Call to Action"

Washington, D.C.

Report Outlines Five Recommendations and Practical Steps for Implementation

A study team from the National Academy of Public Administration and the Project Management Institute (PMI) today released a new report, “Building an Agile Federal Government: A Call to Action,” that outlines five recommendations for leaders to make government more agile, and practical steps for their implementation.  

This report was sponsored by the Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust and PMI.

“To make real progress on the challenges we face as a nation, government must start doing things differently—and become more agile,” said Terry Gerton, President and CEO of the Academy. “Our study team conducted research and analysis to consider how agile government differs from current management practices, what major issues and impediments hinder agile adoption, and what various departments and agencies need to do to unlock the true potential of agile. The result is a set of five practical recommendations with specific implementation steps that we believe can increase agility. This report is designed to help federal leaders and managers infuse agile thinking throughout their agencies, leading to better outcomes and improved trust in government.” 

“Agile is key to unlocking federal potential and realizing outcomes,” said Mark Lines, Vice President, Disciplined Agile (DA) at Project Management Institute. “Whether at the project, program, or agency level, agile approaches can increase efficiency, decrease cost, mitigate risk, and most importantly, deliver outcomes that meet and even exceed the expectations that citizens have of their government. While some leaders and groups have already risen to the challenge of implementing agile in focused ways, this report provides a roadmap for the journey to greater agility throughout the government. PMI is proud to contribute to this important agenda-setting study, and to serve as a resource for leaders and project team members who want to become more agile in the service of a more efficient and effective government.” 

The Agile Federal Government report, a call to action for the federal government, states, “Under this new management paradigm, the top priority is ‘customer’ or end-user satisfaction. Staff members are empowered. Small teams do the work in multiple short periods of time. Individuals operate within a focused set of networks. Innovative tools and working approaches that facilitate innovation and support problem solving are used. Risk is identified and addressed early. And the focus is on doing.”

The report’s five recommendations include:

  • To the maximum extent feasible, agile should become the preferred operating model across the federal government.  
  • Agile methods of management and operations should be championed inside federal departments and agencies and incorporated into as many of their activities as possible.  
  • Key barriers to agile functioning within the federal government should be identified and appropriately addressed within the nation’s checks-and-balances political system and legal framework.  
  • Agile approaches, successes, and challenges should be highlighted across the federal government.
  • Department and agency leaders should ensure that readily accessible training opportunities about agile principles and approaches, especially including management skills, are available. 

The report emphasizes that, “New operating principles and practices—and a new leadership and management mindset—will be required for success. With a more flexible management approach, the federal government can be in a stronger position to tackle persistent problems and deal with crises.” 

An agile government approach is necessary to address the Grand Challenges in Public Administration, the 12 greatest issues facing the nation in the decade ahead. The Academy has established the Agile Government Center (AGC) in partnership with the IBM Center for the Business of Government in order to promote agile practices across agencies. The AGC has gained significant momentum by bringing key government, industry, academic, and nonprofit stakeholder groups into a broad coalition—the Agile Government Network—which has developed a set of 10 agile principles to drive government improvement. The Network has also developed case studies of agile government in action for use by government leaders at all levels. A recent AGC report, The Road to Agile Government, discusses how application of these principles can improve outcomes and build public trust in government and offers several recommendations for leaders going forward.


About Project Management Institute (PMI)

PMI is the leading authority in project management, committed to advancing the project management profession to positively impact project success. We empower professionals to excel in project management practices through our growing global community, knowledge sharing, and best-in-class certifications—driving positive change in organizations and communities. Since 1969, our unwavering mission has been to advocate for the profession by offering life-long learning and connections to sharpen high-demand skills. Today, PMI provides professionals at every stage of their career journey with the globally recognized standards, online courses, thought leadership, events, and tools they need to succeed. With 300 chapters around the world, PMI members can network, find mentors, access career opportunities, and learn from peers, working together to drive greater impact.

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About the National Academy of Public Administration

Chartered by Congress to provide non-partisan expert advice, the Academy is an independent, non-profit, and non-partisan organization established in 1967 to assist government leaders in building more effective, efficient, accountable, and transparent organizations. Learn more at

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