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									                     Management Finance and Leadership Concentration

                              PUAF 790 Project Course Syllabus
                                   2009-2010 Academic Year
                                           3 Credits
                     Instructors: Jacqueline Rogers and Danila Weatherly


The capstone of the MPM degree is the project course, an opportunity for pre-career students to
apply their newly-developed political, financial, economic, quantitative, ethical, analytical and
communication skills to actual problems for real-world clients. The project course helps students
develop skills and techniques to analyze concrete issues and, if applicable, develop useful
recommendations for decision-makers. Students are expected to develop clear and succinct oral
and written deliverables that communicate the results of their analysis effectively.

This is a course in directed independent work study. Since there is a substantial lead time
associated with project definition, students should contact the instructors to discuss their interests
and priorities by no later than July 1, 2009, for a planned May 2010 graduation.

While students can register for either the fall or the spring semester, the course will span both
semesters. This is to allow for adequate time to accommodate sponsor timelines as well as
complete the required tasks and deliverables. Most interactions between students and their
instructors will be individual. However, there will be 3 or 4 group meetings each semester, more
if the students desire them.

On an exception basis, students may undertake non-sponsored project. See below, p. 6, The

Formal and Informal Meetings

Group Meeting Schedule. The schedule outlined below is preliminary. Actual meeting dates
will be worked out once all students' academic schedules for other classes are firm, but by no
later than September 30 for the Fall semester meetings, and February 15 for the Spring semester

For each group meeting session, students will prepare and submit a one page summary of
progress as compared to the schedule in the approved contract for submission to faculty and to
serve as the basis of their progress reports to their classmates.

Based on the last two years’ experience, the instructors have determined that most students have
insufficient preparation in research and major report writing, project organization, matters of
format and the rules of attribution. Even basic grammar has become an issue. Therefore, a
reading will be assigned for each group meeting session on relevant topics, and approximately 30
minutes of each session will be devoted to discussing the reading and reporting out conclusions.

Fall Semester:

       1st Group Meeting Session: September 11, 9:30-11:30AM – students describe project
       intent in general terms. Rogers and Weatherly discuss expectations. Emphasis will be
       placed on the development of project contracts.;

       2nd Group Meeting Session: mid-October (2 hrs.) – students disseminate and explain
       approved project contracts. Emphasis will be placed on writing guidelines and outline

       3rd Group Meeting: mid-December (2 hrs.) – students provide progress reports in 10
       minute presentations, based on a one page progress summary, which is disseminated to
       classmates and faculty. Classmates provide feedback. Emphasis will be placed on
       presentation basics.

       4th Group Meeting Session: if applicable (2 hrs) – a session will be scheduled for
       presentations from students completing their projects during the fall semester.

Spring Semester:

       5th Group Meeting Session: third week in February: (2 hrs.) – students provide progress
       reports in 10 minute presentations. based on a one page progress summary, which is
       disseminated to classmates and faculty. Classmates provide feedback.

       6th Group Meeting Session: third week in March (2 hrs.) – students provide progress
       reports in ten minute presentations and go over presentation basics. Students will give a
       formal 20 minute presentation, with 10 minutes for Q&A (if any projects are complete).

       Final Group Meetings: Mid-April to mid-May (4-6 hrs) – remaining students make
       formal 20 minute presentations with 10 minutes for Q&As.

First Individual Interview. Students should forward a resume to Jacqueline and Danila no later
than July 15 together with an email broadly describing their interests. Thereafter there will be a
three way exchange, which attempts to match student interests with possible sponsors .
Jacqueline’s email is Danila’s is Jacqueline’s cell
phone is 443-995-0501 and she can be reached seven days a week prior to 9:30 AM and after 8
PM. Danila’s number is 301-452-8873 and the best time to reach her is Mon – Friday after 5:30
PM. Jacqueline has good State and local contacts and Danila has good federal contacts. Face
time will be scheduled on an as needed basis at mutually convenient times and places.

Once three or more potential project sponsor contacts have been established, it is the student's

responsibility to follow up. If a student has more than one interview with a potential sponsor, it
is important to write a polite thank you note or email to the losing agencies, so that future
students will still be welcome.

Students are expected to comport themselves as organized, disciplined professionals. While we
are available for consultation and assistance, it is the student's responsibility to pursue and
complete the project in a timely way. On the job, students are representing the School of Public
Policy. How each student performs will affect future students' options at the sponsoring agency.

Most students find the project course a challenging adventure, one on which they can hone their
classroom skills. In the past, completed projects have also served as effective samples of
students' capabilities as they seek job placements. Often, the project leads directly to an
employment opportunity. Samples of previously completed projects are available for review on
the desk under the helmet in 1105 Preinkert Hall, Danila and Jacqueline’s office.

Additional Individual Consultations. We will be available as needed, but only in response to
student initiative. We do not keep regular office hours, but students are assured of a mutually
convenient appointment within one week of their request.

Project Sponsors

Identifying a sponsor and developing a good working relationship with him or her is a crucial
first step in any project. Unlike the traditional master's thesis, which can focus on topics of
purely theoretical or scholarly interest, the project is intended to be thoroughly practical, in
keeping with the professional nature of public policy education.

Possible sponsors include:

          Elected officials and their staffs;
          Government agencies at the federal, state and local levels;
          Lobbyists, interest groups, international organizations, public interest law firms, and
           trade associations; and
          Business and non-profit institutions that deal extensively with government.

Thus, project sponsors may come from a wide range of institutions with a wide range of roles in
forming policy. Occasionally, students have done projects with their summer employer. In this
case, it is particularly important to agree on a project distinct from past or ongoing work. Work on
the project must be unpaid.

Regardless of affiliation, a sponsor must be actively involved in the decision making process for the
proposed topics. Moreover, a good sponsor should appreciate the strengths and limitations of
formal analysis, and when such analysis can help in clarifying a problem and finding the best
solution to it. In addition, a good sponsor must be open to different perspectives. The sponsor
should look to the student for development of an actual work product. Finally, the sponsor must be

willing to spend time with the student, to review interim products, and to provide access to relevant
data, publications, staff, and other individuals. Students should avoid selecting a truly interesting
project with a sponsor who appears too busy to pay attention to the project.

Defining the Project

The student and sponsor, with the approval of the faculty advisors, define the project. Much like
consulting, the project is an independent piece of work performed for the sponsor. Thus, while
the student may physically work in the sponsor's office part-time during the project, the student
is not an extra hand in the office. In this respect, the project is distinctly different from an
internship or research assistantship, and this should be made clear at the outset to the sponsor.

Successful projects have the following characteristics:

          The project should address specific problems identified by the sponsor and assist the
           sponsor in reaching policy decisions or completing work-related financial analyses.

          The project should be timely, but not so volatile that the basic issues and the student's
           evaluation of them change drastically during the writing stage. In general, topics in
           which major new developments are expected to occur during the spring semester are
           unsuitable. An exception can be made if the student is on an accelerated timetable for
           completion of the project.

          The topic should be narrowly defined, but not so narrow that the analysis would not
           be effective in illustrating the student's skills to a prospective employer. The student
           and sponsor must strike a balance between one that is intellectually challenging for
           the student and one that is feasible in the given time frame. Focus should be on the
           smaller, more manageable undertakings that a beginning professional would be likely
           to work on.

          There should be enough information available to complete the project. Therefore,
           students should avoid issues in which costs and constituencies are ill-defined or
           where good data will be hard to access.

Projects vary greatly in form and content. Some students have developed automated financial
tracking systems. Others have: created models for setting funding levels for government
agencies; undertaken research reports; developed fiscal indicator systems for local governments;
performed program analyses; quantified the personnel implications and their costs of facility
expansions; evaluated the feasibility of facility expansions for enterprise activities; tested the
market for and evaluated the feasibility of profiting from government developed software;
developed business plans for non-profit agencies; undertaken comparative analyses of program
funding options; developed cost-saving downsizing proposals; assumed responsibility for capital
or operating budget preparation; or helped reformat budgets. The common thread is that each
project integrated fiscal analysis with program or policy review.

While developing potential projects, students should confer frequently with the instructors so
that the project stays on the right track. Once the student and the sponsor have reached tentative
agreement on the scope of a project, the student should prepare a formal contract to be signed or
electronically approved through email by the student, the sponsor and the instructors. A high
degree of precision is expected in this document.

Sponsor Conferences

There will be three conference calls among the sponsor, the student and the instructor, which the
student will be responsible for coordinating.

      The first conference call will be scheduled when the student’s contract is substantially

      The second conference call will take place at the mid-point of the project as determined
       by the project’s schedule identified in the contract.

      The final call will occur when the instructors are satisfied that the project is substantially
       complete and should be acceptable to the sponsor.


The course has five deliverables: (1). a short contract executed among the student, the student's
work supervisor and the instructors (See Appendix 1 for sample format and instructions for
completing each section); (2) a Preliminary Draft of the Project Paper which will be graded; (3)
the final version of the Project Paper; (4) a Work Journal ; and (5) a Power Point slide deck to
be distributed during the class presentation. All five deliverables must be completed. The project
paper is the most important and will carry the most weight in determining the student’s final
grade. The following is the list of course deliverables and a breakout of the weights associated
with the deliverables:

       1.   Contract………………………………..………....5%
       2.   Preliminary Project Paper Draft*………….........20%
       3.   Final Project Paper…………………………....... 65%
       4.   Work Journal*…………………………………….0%
       5.   PowerPoint Slide Deck…………………….…….10%

*The final grade will be reduced by ½ of a full letter grade if:
        The preliminary draft is submitted untimely or not at all;
        The journal is not completed and submitted, which demonstrates that the student has
           been reflecting on the experience; or
        The PowerPoint presentation in ineffectual.

 Projects that take more than a year to complete, are untimely with regard to sponsor’s needs or
for which drafts are not submitted to the instructors until the last minute may also be
downgraded up to a full letter grade.

Approximately three weeks of lead time should be allowed to complete faculty review of drafts;
however, every effort will be made to provide more prompt turnaround. Frequently, what passes
a sponsor’s muster won't pass faculty scrutiny, so it is important for students to allow enough
review time and space for requested adjustments.

The Contract. The contract ensures that we have a mutually agreed to, clearly defined
undertaking. It protects students from unrelated intrusions as well as improper expectations that
students accomplish unrelated activities. It serves as the basis on which the final project will be
evaluated. Although brief, it is quite difficult to complete effectively. Supervisors are often
murky about their expectations. They confuse goals and problem statements. Students need to
force clarity up front. Please keep in mind that instructors’ expectations must be met, in spite of
the client’s satisfaction. The contract information can organized in an EXCEL template (See
Appendix 1) or students may adopt a different format as long as all the bases are covered.

The Journal. The journal need not be grammatically correct, accurately spelled or properly
punctuated. (This is the only time students have this luxury.) It is designed to ensure that
students track their time by date and hours invested, as well as stand back from the experience to
assess it. It can be kept handwritten in a notebook or on computer. The log is not a part of your
grade unless it is very obviously skimpy, but students can't get a grade without turning it in.
Profundity is not required, but we will downgrade the project grade as noted above, if the log
shows no evidence the student was thinking about what he or she was doing. A simple way to
keep the log is to set up an Excel file with four columns: Date, Hours Worked, Accomplishments
and Comments. This table can be updated whenever the student works on the project and then
hours can be summarized through AutoSum when the project is completed.

The Project. The project paper itself should contain a financial analysis component. However,
for Management and Leadership concentrators, this component can be very modest or waived
altogether by the instructors on a case by case basis. Similarly, if a student has a clearly
formulated concept for a non-sponsored research endeavor and the instructors are satisfied that
the work will be directly relevant to policy making, the sponsorship requirement can be waived
on a case by case basis. The instructors may also choose to require some students to undertake
non-sponsored research.

Financial analysis is defined as any analysis that connects money with program activity. For
example, quantifying the cost associated with the implementation of a new policy, a
programmatic change, or identifying the financial feasibility of undertaking a development
project. The project must have a clear beginning, middle and end. It cannot be a team effort.
No compensation is allowed. Students should select an endeavor which will give them
marketable experience and a product with which to sell their skills during job interviews. If

students do well, their sponsors should be willing to serve as a reference.

It should take students approximately 150 hours to complete the requirements of the Project
Course successfully. The following breakdown should be used as a guide. If a student finds that
he/she is spending too much time in one of the following phases, he/she should consult with the

       Phase I: Sponsor Selections and Contract Development…………………………20 hours
       Phase II: Development of Outline, Data Mining, Analysis and Journal ……… 50 hours
       Phase III: Development of Prelim. Draft, Revisions, Final and Journal………….40 hours
       Phase IV: PowerPoint Slide Deck, Oral Presentation, and Journal….…………...20 hours
       Class Time, Meetings/Consultations with Instructor...……….…………………..20 hours

Final products include the contract, the preliminary draft of the paper, the final paper with all of
the supporting analysis, the journal, and a PowerPoint slide deck to serve as a guide throughout
the oral presentation. The paper needs to be elegantly formatted, produced, and bound. Enough
copies should be produced so one is available to each of us, with some extras to use during the
student’s job search. Classmates should be given a copy of the Power Point slide deck.


If students are registered for the fall semester, failure to complete the project during the fall
semester will result in an incomplete, but this will not in any way prejudice the final grade. Most
projects don't fit neatly into a semester. If a student needs to complete this requirement to
graduate in the spring, the student MUST have submitted a semi-final draft by mid-March.
Otherwise students are at risk of not having sufficient time to bring the product up to our
standards. In the past, this has resulted in some otherwise A students getting B's. Worst case is
when an incomplete is the only option and the project spills into the summer after graduation,
resulting in students having to re-register and pay money.

Electronic Evaluation

Students are responsible for submitting the formal University course evaluation for this
course at CourseEvalUM in order to help faculty and administrators improve teaching and
learning at Maryland. Please make a note now of the link at which you can access the
submission system ( If you submitted all of your evaluations in
the fall or are a new student, you can also access all posted results from Fall 2007 forward via
Testudo under CourseEvalUM Reporting. To retain this access, you must submit all of your
evaluations each semester. If you do not have access right now, you can gain it by submitting all
of your evaluations from the previous semester. More information is at:

                    COMPLETING THE CONTRACT

Students may use the attached form or devise their own formats for the contract using the
computer table function or a spread sheet, but the contract should fit on a single 8 1/2" by 11"
page with the font no smaller than 10 point. It should have the following boxes: Title; Objective;
Problem Statement; Deliverable(s) and Estimated Delivery Dates; Tasks and Scheduling;
Responsibilities; Comments; and Approvals


Give your project a clear title.


Leading with a verb, state what you will accomplish as a result of project completion, e.g.;

        Cost out alternative methods for abating non-point source pollution from Chesapeake
        Bay tributaries for the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture.

        Automate the air pollution permit system for the Maryland State Department of
        Environment, so that management can accurately forecast annual revenues and
        monthly cash flow.

        Develop a policy for the issuance of variable rate debt for the Maryland for the State

        Estimate the personnel cost associated with a fifty bed expansion at Anne Arundel
        Medical Center.

        As an OMB analyst, prepare the capital budget for Montgomery County Maryland's
        Department of Transportation's Bridges and Storm Water Management Programs.

        Evaluate the competitive position and future fiscal status of BWI Airport.

        Devise a method for the United States Army to downsize the Recruitment Command
        without compromising troop strength.

        Evaluate the feasibility and fiscal implications of converting from single parking
        meters to clustered electronic meters in Arlington County.


In a complete sentence or two, explain the problem or issue the project is designed to address.
Here are some examples

       Maryland must reduce non-point source pollution feeding into the Chesapeake Bay by
       40% in the next decade. Alternatives are needed to help determine the most cost
       effective strategies.

       The Department of Environment presently has no system for projecting revenue from
       the issuance of air pollution permits and is therefore unable either to integrate this
       special revenue into its budget development or assess the cost effectiveness of the fee
       structure itself.

       The Maryland State Treasurer’s Office has had the authority to issue variable rate bonds
       for several years, but it lacks expertise and policy to implement this authority.

       Anne Arundel Medical Center has received approval from the State for a 50 bed
       expansion, but it has no adjustable model for estimating the personnel costs associated
       with the expansion.

       Montgomery County prepares annually a Capital Program and Budget which is published
       January 1. The County Office of Management and Budget wants staff support to
       complete the program for the Department of transportation.

       BWI has no mechanism for assessing its competitive position in the marketplace; it
       desires a better understanding of its regional and national competition.

       The United States Army's Recruitment command must be downsized. The Army needs
       to know what the optimum mix of staffing and advertising is to meet recruitment goals.

       New automated options are being implemented for managing parking meters. Arlington
       County has no experience with these options and wishes to undertake and evaluate a pilot
       of such alternatives in various neighborhoods.


Describe here what your deliverables are and when you have agreed to produce them. Here are
some examples.

       This project will be completed by May 15. It will delineate the known methods for
       abating non-point source pollution, their costs per acre and will recommend the mix of
       strategies with which to achieve optimum results.

       This project will be complete prior to January 1, so that it is available for the new
       calendar year. It will consist of an automated data base and a set of reports available to
       management forecasting revenues by permit type as well as month of issuance.

       This project has no firm completion date, but should be finished by March 1. The
       product will be a report that describes the types of variable rate debt, evaluates their pros
       and cons, assesses rating agency perspective, documents the experience of other states
       and localities, and drafts a policy to guide issuance of variable rate debt in Maryland.

       This project has no firm completion date, but should be finished by April 1. The product
       will be a set of interlocking spread sheets which are documented and easily updatable as
       construction nears completion. The spread sheets will be accompanied by a cover
       memorandum to the sponsor highlighting findings and describing the methodology for
       developing the spread sheets.

       The project has no firm completion date, but should comprise a report which evaluates
       BWI vis a vis the other regional airports and comparable airports catering to low fare
       carriers. It should contain strategic recommendations for the solicitation of future
       business at BWI.

       This project must be completed by the third week in January. The product will be a
       memorandum to the instructor which describes the experience, to which are attached the
       program review recommendations for the OMB Director and the County Executive as
       well as the published Project Description Forms from the Capital Budget.

       This project must be completed by March 1, and be available for use by the Department
       of the Army in the preparation of the FFY 02 budget.

       The pilot and ensuring recommendations must be completed in memorandum form to the
       sponsor by mid-March so that funding for implementing them can be appropriated in the
       FY 07 Arlington County Budget.


Use this section to break your project into as many discreet steps as possible and to phase them
over time, so that the methodology in approaching the assignment is understood and agreed to at
the outset. Typical steps include, data collection (e.g. literature surveys, customer surveys file
reviews, or interviews); data analysis; data base development; review of recommendations with
management; draft report(s), and final report, memorandum or other product.


Use this section to identify in cooperation with the student's supervisor all parties relevant to the
project and to clarify how the student will have access to them. This ensures that the student will
not miss key players and that, if necessary, the supervisor will create the appropriate access to
other units of government.


This gives the student an opportunity to supply information about any special conditions or
constraints which apply to the project.


Students must obtain a signoff from their supervisor and from the lead instructor that the project
is appropriately defined. In general, we tend to be tougher taskmasters on the quality of project
definition, so don't coast. It isn't good enough to get vague agreement with a supervisor and then
plunge ahead. That could result in a lot of wasted time!

                Attachment One: Project Contract Form

Student Name:                                 Student Contact Info (tel # and e-mai)

OBJECTIVE                         RESPONSIBILITIES                            APPROVA

PROBLEM                                                                       COMMENT


                     TIMELINE: MAY 20XX - MAY 20XX



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