There are many approaches to front-end planning, which is also known as preproject planning, preconstruction planning, project programming, feasibility analysis, schematic design, scope definition, or conceptual planning. Whatever it is called, successful front-end planning requires the active involvement of senior management before decisions are made that will determine the fate of a project.

The Phase II report identified early project planning as a major factor affecting project success (NRC, 1999). It noted that inadequate definition of project scope and inadequate preconstruction planning lead to cost overruns, schedule overruns, and failure to achieve the intended project scope and performance. The report also found that adequate initial project definition was a continuing problem in DOE: “Statistical studies showed that inadequate project definition (detailed planning of scope, objectives, resources) accounts for 50 percent of the cost increases for environmental remediation projects.” The report also noted that the DOE was setting project baselines too early and based on too little design information.

In October 2000, DOE issued Order O413.3, Program and Project Management for the Acquisition of Capital Assets, which defined the critical decision steps from CD-0 through CD-4 and a fairly detailed project-planning process as part of the capital budget cycle. OECM, in conjunction with Congress, has begun to develop a funding mechanism for project engineering and design (FED) (DOE, 2000a). As noted in the Phase II report, adequate FED funding, preconstruction planning, and project controls are all critical to successful projects. The committee reaffirms the Phase II recommendations for DOE to improve preconstruction planning and performance baselines. The committee applauds the positive steps taken by DOE for implementing preconstruction planning; however, much more management attention to improving front-end planning is needed.

An example of the need for very early project planning is the Next Linear Collider, which has been publicly proposed by the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), Fermilab, the Office of Science, and other laboratories. Although this project is still in the early conceptual stage, and even the country of location is undecided, the need for early front-end planning is demonstrated by the fact that cost estimates (“more than $6 billion”) have already been published in the general press (Glanz, 2001a; Glanz, 2001b; Seife, 2001). It is never too early to start front-end planning, and with cost estimates having been made public, front-end planning should already be under way.

OECM has limited documentation of project planning procedures and expects to revise and expand the descriptions in the draft Program and Project Management manual (PPM) (DOE, 2000b) and the draft Project Management Practices (PMP) (DOE, 2000c), which are reviewed in Chapter 8 of this report. The committee believes that OECM and the PMSOs should seek out and implement the best, most up-to-date front-end planning methodologies. As one example, the Construction Industry Institute (CII) has defined front-end planning as “the process of developing sufficient strategic information with which owners

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