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New Virtual PM Challenge: Independent Assessment at NASA

How does NASA ensure its projects remain on track and on time? Two words: independent assessment. Find out more at a new Virtual Project Management (PM) Challenge on May 17. 

Is the project on budget? Is the team working cohesively to manage risks? Can the schedule be met? At NASA, the independent assessment process helps answer these and other questions that are critical to ensuring the highest probability of mission success. Independent assessment is a project management tool designed to provide unbiased information on project progress to key decision makers. For the agency, that means analyzing schedule, cost, and technical risk at major project milestones.

“You wouldn’t grade your own homework, would you?” asked Ramien Pierre, APPEL Curriculum Lead and Virtual PM Challenge moderator. “NASA feels the same way, which is why the agency utilizes independent assessments to review project compliance objectively.”

In the fall of 2015, NASA updated the independent assessment function by transferring it from a central office to the four mission directorates. With this change, the agency has conferred greater responsibility for programs and projects to the mission directorates and center directors, enhancing management accountability while helping enhance mission success.

APPEL invites you to learn more about NASA’s new approach to independent assessment on May 17, 2017, from 10:30 a.m. to noon ET when the Academy hosts a new Virtual PM Challenge: No One Grades Their Own Homework: Independent Assessment Under the New Decentralized Model. During the live event, key agency personnel will discuss what has changed in terms of independent assessment at NASA and why. Presenters will examine how the changes in independent assessment implementation impact NASA projects and project managers, and will provide updates on the transition’s progress to date as well as lessons learned.

NASA presenters at the event will include Deputy Associate Administrator for Management of the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) Prasun Desai, Director of the Strategic Investments Division in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) Cristina Guidi, NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot, Senior Advisor to the NASA Associate Administrator James Ortiz, Langley Research Center (LaRC) Deputy Chief Counsel Pete Polen, Deputy Associate Administrator for Programs in the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Greg Robinson, Director of the Integration Management Office for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) Tony Springer, Program Executive, Program and Project Management Division of the Office of the Chief Engineer (OCE) Ellen Stigberg, and Deputy Associate Administrator for Policy and Plans for Human Exploration and Operations (HEOMD) Greg Williams.

“Independent assessment is vital to NASA’s long-term success,” said Ortiz. “We are excited about our new approach because it clarifies management accountability for independent assessment and leverages talent across the agency to assess our missions, fostering learning and sharing of best practices across project experiences.”

If you are interested in attending the Virtual PM Challenge, please click here to learn more or to RSVP.

Visit the Virtual PM Challenge archives to view past sessions, including Considering It All for Project Success: Dissenting Opinions at NASA and Project Derailed? Get Back on Track with Schedule and Cost.

Read APPEL News interviews with past Virtual PM Challenge presenters: The Role of Dissent in Driving Project Success, Mission Impossible: Getting a Project Back on Track, The Inside Scoop: Cost Estimating and Reporting at NASA, and Enhancing Career Potential by Cultivating a System-Level Mentality.

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