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Suggested Citation:"1. Introduction to the Government/Industry Forum." National Research Council. 2002. Proceedings of Government/Industry Forum: The Owner's Role in Project Management and Preproject Planning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10343.
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1
Introduction to the Government/Industry Forum

Kenneth F. Reinschmidt, Chairman Committee for Oversight and Assessment of U.S. Department of Energy Project Management

The work of the National Research Council’s Committee on Oversight and Assessment of U.S. Department of Energy Project Management can be traced back to 1998, when there was a one-person report by Lloyd Duscha, Assessing the Need for Independent Project Reviews in the Department of Energy. His report led to expansion of the agency’s external review process and changes to it.

In the wake of the report, an NRC committee was formed that had one objective—to write a report on assessing project management in the DOE. That committee finished its work in December of 1998 and produced the 1999 report Improving Project Management in the Department of Energy.

The present committee, often called the Phase III committee, was appointed to continue the work identified by the original committee. It has a determinate life of 3 years. On January 17, 2000, it issued a letter report, Improved Project Management in the Department of Energy, to the Secretary of Energy. In November 2001, it issued its latest report, Progress in Improving Project Management at the Department of Energy: 2001 Assessment.

In addition to the written reports, the committee has been looking for other ways of promoting two-way communications with DOE about a number of specific issues that had engaged its attention. This forum was organized to exchange information in two areas:

  1. DOE’s role as a project owner but not necessarily a direct manager of projects.

Suggested Citation:"1. Introduction to the Government/Industry Forum." National Research Council. 2002. Proceedings of Government/Industry Forum: The Owner's Role in Project Management and Preproject Planning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10343.
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  1. Preproject planning, also known as preconstruction planning or front-end planning. The committee strongly feels the quality of DOE’s front-end planning is a key factor in determining the outcome of DOE projects.

Today’s program consists of three parts: First, we will hear from Undersecretary Card and Chief Financial Officer Carnes, both from DOE. Second, we will hear presentations by industrial corporations that act as owners and clients for projects. Committee member Ted Kennedy organized the industrial session. The presenters here today represent the companies who in the opinion of the committee are exemplars of the best in project planning. Finally, there will be a question-and-answer session, with questions from the floor directed to the presenters who served as panelists.

Suggested Citation:"1. Introduction to the Government/Industry Forum." National Research Council. 2002. Proceedings of Government/Industry Forum: The Owner's Role in Project Management and Preproject Planning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10343.
×
Page 1
Suggested Citation:"1. Introduction to the Government/Industry Forum." National Research Council. 2002. Proceedings of Government/Industry Forum: The Owner's Role in Project Management and Preproject Planning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10343.
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Recurrent problems with project performance in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in the 1990s raised questions in Congress about the practices and processes used by the department to manage projects. The 105th Committee of Conference on Energy and Water Resources directed DOE to investigate establishing a project review process. Many of the findings and recommendations in this series of reports identified the need for improved planning in the early project stages (front-end planning) to get the project off to the right start, and the continuous monitoring of projects by senior management to make sure the project stays on course. These reports also stressed the need for DOE to act as an owner, not a contractor, and to train its personnel to function not as traditional project managers but as knowledgeable owner's representatives in dealing with projects and contractors.

The NRC Committee for Oversight and Assessment of Department of Energy Project Management determined that it would be helpful for DOE to sponsor a forum in which representatives from DOE and from leading corporations with large, successful construction programs would discuss how the owner's role is conducted in government and in industry. In so doing, the committee does not claim that all industrial firms are better at project management than the DOE. Far from it-the case studies represented at this forum were selected specifically because these firms were perceived by the committee to be exemplars of the very best practices in project management. Nor is it implied that reaching this level is easy; the industry speakers themselves show that excellence in project management is difficult to achieve and perhaps even more difficult to maintain. Nevertheless, they have been successful in doing so, through constant attention by senior management.

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