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Implementing Federalism in America: A Project Management Approach

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Implementing Federalism in America: A Project Management Approach

The history of how Federalism came to be in America and how it evolved to where it is today is a phenomenal success story. Much could be said about the raw talent and unique leadership qualities of certain individuals responsible for their achievements. Key people such as James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, are just a few of the visionaries who forged ahead to create a "more perfect union" and molded our government into the democracy it is today.

From a modernistic point of view, the development of our United States Constitution could be compared to solving an enterprise architecture problem: How to architect the structure of the United States federal government? Today, this type of endeavor could be classified as a project and managed as such, using the tools and methodologies of the Project Management profession and the lessons learned from the past.

The Articles of Confederation was our nation's first attempt at federalizing the government. Written in 1778 and ratified in 1781, the Articles created the United States and were comprised of a set of agreements among the then thirteen states. These thirteen states had great variation in population, economic strength, and fundamental industries. The Articles served a purpose but left too much authority to the states and failed to create a strong federal government.

Thus, the project vision was to establish the structure of the federal government of the United States. The primary deliverable was in the form of a document that defined our government's key components and responsibilities. A Project Scope statement would have provided details on how these components interacted with each other and provided a way to keep the architecture updated by way of amendments to the Constitution. Of course, the document alone would not necessarily deem this a successful project. A truly successful project requires that all objectives have been achieved and that the project sponsors (in this case, the delegates) have officially accepted the results.

The project plan would have been divided into several phases as required to execute and complete the project. For example, the first phase would have been getting the delegates to the table. This required negotiation skills, creativity, ingenuity and persuasion. Getting buy-in on a project that promotes change is a real challenge, but Madison and his allies managed to accomplish this. It took them five years from the time the Articles of Confederation had been ratified to convince state delegates to participate and even then, the initial agenda was limited to revising the Articles of Confederation. During phase one, additional tasks would have been completed, such as analyzing historical approaches to governance and selecting the most applicable and desirable principles to achieve a solid government model for our new country.

The second phase of the project was the Constitutional Convention. By this time, the stage was set and "fifty-five men attended, representing all the states except Rhode Island" (Brinkley 166). Madison did his homework and was prepared. "He had devised a detailed plan for a new 'national' government, and the Virginians used it to control the agenda from the moment the convention began" (166). This plan was known as the Virginia Plan, which provided for a national government comprised of three branches; legislative, executive, and judicial. "The concept of checks and balances was embodied in a provision that legislative acts could be vetoed by a council composed of the Executive and selected members of the judicial branch; their veto could be overridden by an unspecified legislative majority" (Wikipedia). It took about three months to finalize the document and "on September 17, 1787, thirty-nine delegates signed the Constitution" (Brinkley 179).

The third phase was getting the state legislatures to ratify the Constitution. During this time, "Hamilton, Madison and Jay wrote a series of essays explaining the meaning of and virtues of the Constitution" (171). These essays were known as The

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