Independent Project Reviews Examine and Improve Project Performance and Monitoring
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) employs a holistic approach to monitoring that includes Independent Project Reviews (IPRs) conducted by third-party reviewers. As stated in U.S. Department of Energy Chief Financial Officer’s written testimony to the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on March 17, 2011, the IPRs “verify and validate recipient performance and evaluate project management oversight.” IPRs also ensure that fundamental management methods and tools are in place and identify programmatic trends, best practices, and potential areas for improvement.
IPRs are being conducted on 200+ of the approximately 700 Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment (RDD&D) projects funded with $5.5B in Recovery Act funds. Projects are selected using a relative risk ranking method based on multiple factors (e.g. project type, recipient type, award size, cost share), and IPRs are performed by collecting and evaluating information about project performance toward schedule, budget, scope, reporting compliance, and other project management criteria. During interviews with program staff, IPR reviewers examine project communication, risk management, best practices, and lessons learned.
IG, GAO, and Single audits and other monitoring activities, such as desktop and onsite checklists, inform the IPR process. In turn, IPRs better prepare EERE for audits and improve monitoring activities by identifying opportunities for improvement.
Since the IPR pilot started in November 2010, 26 IPRs have been closed, and 36 IPRs are in process. Reviewers observed no evidence that any IPR-reviewed project is in jeopardy of meeting scope, schedule, and cost objectives. Of those issues found, most were either administrative in nature or opportunities for the use of improved practices.
In summary, EERE’s IPR initiative is highly portable and scalable for any project, program, or portfolio. If you are interested in leveraging the high-quality work of the EERE team to implement your own IPR process, please contact us at FieldOps@hq.doe.gov.
In the future, IPR-related stories and outcomes will be posted on the Bulletin Board of Lessons Learned, so check back for updates!