Project Management for Government

Project Management for Government

PMP Certification  |  blog  |  Government

The skills of a Project Management Professional® (PMP) apply across industries and companies. However, there are specific project processes, terminology, and certifications for federal government due to the layers of regulations and legislation shaping the work. Project Managers seeking to transfer into government work will benefit from learning about federal government project management training and project management for government.


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Know your government acronyms

To do project management, program management, and project acquisition work within the various federal military and/or federal government organizations requires knowledge of the “lingo” of those settings; one must not only be familiar with terms but know them by the acronym. By no means a complete list, the terms and acronyms below will add to your preparation for formal project management roles in federal government.

Contracting Officer's Representatives


Defense Acquisition University


Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act


Department of Defense


Federal Acquisition Certification for Contracting Officer's Representatives


Federal Acquisition Certification for Program and Project Managers


Federal Acquisition Institute


Federal Acquisition Training Application System


Integrated Product Teams


Office of Federal Procurement Policy


Office of Management and Budget


Program and Project Managers


Program Management Improvement Accountability Act


project delivery management


Project Management Body of Knowledge®

PMBOK® Guide

Project Management Institute


Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy



Note the terms shared reflect both civilian and military organizations. Government project management methodologies may vary in those areas and even across different branches within each. For example, the Department of Defense has a “DOD project management certification” which may not carry over to a civilian department.


Project Certifications in Federal Government

There is not a “PMP government” or “PMP Federal Government” certification offered by the Project Management Institute® (PMI) at this time. For the PMP credential holder, government jobs require the same skills but with an additional layer of specific government project management training and in some cases federal acquisition certification. The PMI® provides great information including guides and whitepapers at the Government Activities and Advocacy resource page.


Federal Project Management Certification | FAC-P/PM

Learn More: Program and Project Managers FAC-P/PM

The Federal Acquisition Certification for Program and Project Managers (FAC-P/PM) program is for acquisition professionals in the Federal Government performing program and project management activities and functions. Program and Project Managers (P/PMs) are critical to project success - including developing accurate government requirements, defining measurable performance standards, and managing life-cycle activities to ensure that intended outcomes are achieved. The FAC-P/PM focuses on essential functional and technical competencies needed for P/PMs.


Federal Project Management Certification | FAC-COR

Learn More: Acquisition Certification for Contracting Officers Representatives FAC-COR

The Federal Acquisition Certification for Contracting Officer’s Representatives (FAC-COR) program is for acquisition professionals in the Federal Government performing contract management activities and functions. Contracting Officer’s Representatives (CORs) play a critical role in ensuring that contractors meet the commitment of their contracts. They facilitate proper development of requirements and assist Contracting Officers in developing and managing their contracts. The purpose of this program is to establish training and experience requirements for those acquisition professionals. The FAC-COR applies to all executive agencies, except the Department of Defense (DoD).


Federal Project Management Certification | DSMC within DAU

Learn More: Defense Career Development Program for Acquisition Personnel

Responding to the needs of the Department of Defense (DOD) and the requirements of congressional legislation, the DOD has implemented a directive [1] and manual [3] which establish a career development program for acquisition personnel. The program establishes specific acquisition workforce position categories and career fields with specific standards for education, training, and experience in each of these fields. Proficiency of DOD acquisition personnel is ensured through a certification program. The program provides career paths for the acquisition workforce in terms of education, training, experience and assignments necessary for career progression of civilians and military members of DOD.


Learn More: DSMC training for DoD Project Managers

The Defense Systems Management College (DSMC) has been training Department of Defense (DoD) project managers for over 40 years. During that time, the training requirements have changed considerably. Most basic courses are now done online while intermediate courses feature a combination of online prerequisites followed by classroom training. Advanced project management courses use teams of students to analyze and prepare case studies, share lessons from their experience, and provide feedback to their colleagues with the goal of preparing them to take on the most critical, expensive, and high visibility projects in the DoD.


Federal Project Management Certification | VAAA FAC-P/PM

Learn More: Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy for Program/Project Managers

To improve service to America’s Veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs needs to gain efficiencies, reduce redundancies, and foster innovation in all areas of care, benefits, and services. Program and project managers (PPMs) are vital to identify and implement the strategic objectives to improve Veteran’s services by writing appropriate requirements, establishing performance standards, and prudently acquiring goods and services. The VAAA Program Management (PM) School provides professional development courses for project and program managers that foster the skills to effectively lead Integrated Product Teams (IPTs), oversee budgeting and governance processes, satisfy agency missions, and achieve expected outcomes.

VAAA FAC-P/PM training meets the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) certification standards and the Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI) FAC-P/PM Competencies for federal civilian agencies.


Project Management Institute and Federal Government

There is an alignment of the core skills and principles embodied by the PMI and the field of project management for government. For example, in the PMI® article “Senior Faculty, Defense Acquisition University (DAU)” the 2015 Defense Acquisition Executive, Mr. Frank Kendall is credited with this statement:

“The first responsibility of key leaders in the acquisition workforce is to think. One of the many reasons that our key leaders have to be true professionals who are fully prepared to do their jobs by virtue of their education, training, and experience is that creative, informed thought is necessary to optimize the structure of a program. “ (Kendal, 2012)

A project manager working at a national health insurance company, versus one at a local creative agency, or at the DoD, may have very different workdays. However, the responsibilities of guiding teams, following (or improving) processes, and achieving approved goals is universal. The PMP® certification may not be required for project managers in government positions, but the achievement itself and the skills it verifies do translate over.


Project Management career potential in Federal Government

Dr. Robert F. Mortlock, Col., USA (Ret.) shares in his May 2020 article on about the project management role in federal government. He states, “Today, the acquisition workforce across DOD totals more than 150,000 dedicated government civilians and uniformed personnel.” Project management, as a career field within the federal government, has many opportunities across a breadth of domains including acquisition personnel. Common requirements include:

  • prior experience in project management
  • skills including leadership, accountability, communication, and trust
  • Bachelor’s degree in related field
  • ability to travel domestically and internationally
  • current U.S. government security clearance or the ability to obtain one

The salary range for a PMP credential holder in a government job will vary depending on the federal agency or organization. provides this salary summary based on the input shared from their users:

PMP Federal Government Salaries

The career site provides this high-level summary of common project management for government tasks:

  • Execute and refine a portfolio of program initiatives to meet organizational goals.
  • Develop and refine the scope of the program in response to evolving organizational and community context.
  • Support program initiatives with marketing copy, samples, market research, or other key data.
  • Build and leverage community and federal relationships to promote and support the program.

Achieving project management success in the federal government can be found through different paths. Those paths can be shaped by the government project management training completed, the federal acquisition certification earned, and/or the DOD project management certification earned.


Government Program Manager Career | Payscale.Com


Federal Government PMP Career Paths

Federal Government PMP Job Satisfaction


Data pulled May 2021



PMP Certification for roles in federal government

The FAC P/PM certification requirements are aligned with the needs of the federal government, with specifics of terms, processes, and tools for that setting. The PMP credential is designed to be universal in that, skills and knowledge can be adapted for a given industry or business. Having a PMP credential is a benefit, though may not be a requirement, for government jobs because it is a verified achievement of mastering project methodologies. The same focus and discipline required to earn a PMP® certification would help achieve project management success in the federal government.


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About Megan Bell, MPM, PMP

A multi-hyphenate of corporate training, higher education, and creative agency work, Bell’s passion for connecting people to impactful information fuels an evolving career journey. Her portfolio includes conducting learning analytic research and reporting, managing a corporate mentoring program, authoring a blog series, facilitating leadership and career programs, serving on a non-profit board, and even occasional voice work. Bell’s education background encompasses UNC-Chapel Hill, Western Carolina University, and North Carolina State University.