For using stakeholder input to supercharge government efficiency—and make the most of public resources
When voters in the Dominican Republic elected a new president in 2020, the government promised change—and a more efficient administration. But big ideas need project leaders like Scarlin Marcelina Gómez Tejada to make them a reality. So she summoned her superpower: “having the courage to face obstacles and risks and to communicate them so projects can get done within schedule, budget and scope.”
At the time, Gómez was working as a project manager for the Ministry of the Presidency, and the team had just six months to plan and launch a handful of key initiatives for the country’s Efficient Government Program. The biggest risk? A tight timeline to home in on program priorities, regularly reviewing and adapting them to align with shifting realities.
Looking to capture a firm grasp of user needs from the start, the team interviewed roughly 200 stakeholders across more than a dozen government agencies. This deep dive helped capture the information needed to support change initiatives and gave her a deep understanding of how government agency workflows could be improved.
“Every project in this program was based on data,” Gómez says. For instance, each agency had a different procurement process, which meant the agencies often bought similar items at a wide range of prices. By highlighting how shared insights could fuel greater efficiencies, Gómez was able to generate early buy-in—and identify change champions who could maintain enthusiasm and influence among others.
To ensure the larger vision resonated with individual stakeholders, the team “involved stakeholders through active listening and emotional intelligence, in a collaborative environment,” she says.
The quest for efficiency didn’t stop there as Gómez helped government agencies shed redundancies that so often added time and costs to processes. By suggesting the consolidation of ministries operations, for instance, the team was able to help relocate some resources to agencies in need, such as health. At the same time, the program sought to centralize the ministries’ various support services within new centers of excellence.
The payoff was clear: “more efficient use of public resources at lower costs,” Gómez says.
Completing the program—and launching the first projects ahead of schedule—both burnished Gómez’s reputation as a project leader and turbocharged her government career. In June 2022, she began leading IT projects for the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development. And two months later, she became a planning and project leader for the Superintendency of Banks of the Dominican Republic. In other words, the legacy of her initial efforts is still yielding benefits for her career—and the country’s citizens.
“The Efficient Government Program has impacted the entire Dominican government,” Gómez says. “Now, high-level government officials know how to optimize the government—and they’re doing it.”
Q&A: Scarlin Marcelina Gómez Tejada on Apollo 11, communication in a multicultural world and a hybrid delivery future
What project has most influenced you personally?
NASA’s Apollo 11. This project showed how a small group of people with great technical capacity can achieve a historic result. Out-of-this-world ambitions can make the impossible possible.
What’s the biggest challenge facing young project leaders right now?
Working in a multilingual, multicultural world where projects span different countries and thus require greater communication skills.
Fast forward: What’s one way managing projects will have changed over the next decade?
Projects will be managed in a hybrid way so they can adapt quickly to changing needs—with self-organized teams that have the necessary soft skills and technological tools.
What book are you obsessed with right now?
Fundamentals of Effective Program Management by Paul Sanghera, PMP, which is helping me study for the Program Management Professional (PgMP)® certification.