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Independent Program Assessment Office Ensured Lifecycle Milestones

NASA’s Independent Program Assessment Office (IPAO) requires independent analysis of programmatic (cost and schedule) risks associated with select lifecycle milestones and Key Decision Points (KDPs). NASA’s missions at all levels face increasing complexity. This is a result of not only technologically challenging engineering systems with higher levels of cross-program integration than ever before but also increasing political pressure and constrained budgets. All of which lead to complicated decision-making from boots-on-the-ground project managers to the Agency Level Leadership. NASA IPAO selected Reed Integration as recognized leaders in the field to perform ongoing unbiased and objective reviews. Additionally, Reed continuously develops and improves standard operating procedures leading to repeatable processes. The ultimate goal of these independent reviews is to support NASA decision makers at all levels and increase the probability of success of the entire NASA Agency.

The charge of IPAO is to help ensure the highest probability of success of NASA missions by objectively reviewing the maturity, health, and status of Programs and projects. IPAO utilizes a Standing Review Board (SRB) to assist them in their charge. The SRB consists of subject matter experts who specialize in areas such as, although not limiting to, project management, thermal systems, mechanical systems, flight systems, integration and testing, electrical, avionic and flight software. These individuals are responsible for thoroughly reviewing a mission’s current status by assessing whether the mission’s plan and approach is sound and executable. Reed Integration Incorporated provided support to IPAO by supplying programmatic analysts that served as consultants to the SRBs.

Each NASA program or project must prove to have adequate management approach (including risk management), technical approach, goals/objectives that align to Agency needs, and cost and schedule estimates that are in compliance to the Agency’s governing procedural documents, To ensure that each program and project meets these requirements, the IPAO ensures that the SRB is made of key experts that provide impartial judgments on the integrity and the state of the program or project –

Reed’s expertise in conducting an unbiased and objective review of the maturity, health, and status of NASA’s programs supported IPAO requirements for an independent, high integrity, and complete risk assessment. Reed supported the development of program benchmarks at various states of their lifecycles, including analyzing program and project cost and schedule confidence levels. Reed’s in-situ senior cost and schedule analysts ensured integrity and an independent review process while supporting the assessment of mission management practices, acquisition planning, control, and methods of communication and reporting.

Results (Detail):  Reed was responsible for conducting several assessments to assist NASA IPAO, including:

  • Cost analysis that assessed resources, including manpower, fabrication, assembly, test facilities and equipment, test beds ground support equipment, launch sites, communication networks, and mission operations centers.
  • Schedule analysis that assessed schedule logic, activity durations, and availability of resources to determine impact on schedule uncertainties.
  • Both cost and schedule analysis included the assessment of the management practices, acquisition planning, control, methods of communication and reporting with consideration of schedule cost estimating and budget.
  • Integrated cost and schedule risk analysis that takes program and project risks into consideration to help support recommendations for funded budget and schedule reserve programs that should be maintained to achieve program and project mission success.

1NASA Systems Engineering Processes and Requirements, NPR 7123.1A, March 2007.

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