Why stop at 26 high-risk projects?
As I’ve been thinking about what the Office of Management and Budget’s high-risk list
means, a couple thoughts keep coming to mind.
First, I tend to believe OMB and Vivek Kundra when he says that the list is not a “hit list” of projects that are in danger of being canceled. Even if you cancel the contract, the need is still there, so work still needs to be done.
Second. I’ve been looking at the criteria the CIO Council laid out for determining a high-risk project:
• Significant cost or schedule problems.
• Missed performance targets or objectives.
• Frequent “re-baselines.”
• Lack of executive sponsorship or leadership.
Let’s think about those for a second. Maybe I’m cynical, but don’t most government contracts run into one or more of those problems?
Maybe I’m overstating my case by saying “most” but it is a lot more than 26 that’s for sure.
So my question is: Why did OMB stop at 26 projects?
I’ll offer one theory – please, chime in with others – these projects are the low-hanging fruit. OMB and the agencies involved already know what they need to do to fix, cancel or replace these projects.
Part 2 of my theory is that these projects are the test cases of how to pressure agencies and how to pressure contractors into righting the other troubled programs out there.
Each agency should be doing what the Veteran Affairs Department did a year ago when it set the standard by putting 45 IT projects on hold. Moves like that will get people's attention.
Contractors would be well-served to get out ahead of the curve, if its not too late. Use the July 28 OMB memo
as a guide and evaluate your projects because as agencies work on their 2012 budget submissions they are going to be doing the same thing. You should already be preparing answers to the tough questions and public scrutiny to come.
On a side note, we’ve heard some complaints about OMB’s data being out of date and incorrect. That’s an interesting point, but does that really detract from the point they are making or the action that needs to be taken?
Posted by Nick Wakeman on Aug 25, 2010 at 9:44 AM