How do busy Technical Project Officers manage the risk associated with their portfolio of projects? Successful risk management can ensure that a project that achieves its goals on time and within budget by enabling DOE and grant recipients to identify and address issues before they turn into problems.

One EERE program has developed a risk assessment tool that measures and evaluates the risk associated with a range of projects in a systematic way. Using a series of financial and technical performance indicators, it has developed a tool that forms an evidentiary base for the systematic assignment of risk (classified as low, medium, or high). While the particular metrics used are designed specifically for this program, this tool has wider applicability to other programs.  

The tool is displayed in a dashboard format that provides an easy-to-view summary of key project metrics. The information comes from a variety of sources: Recipient quarterly reporting, budgets and/or spend plans; DOE site visits; and other data repositories.

The DOE team uses both the quantitative and qualitative information to assign one of three levels of risk.  While the team makes the ultimate determination of the risk level, its decision is informed by the data compiled to date.  The risk associated with each project is also reported in EERE’s central project status reporting database.  This helps DOE project management staff keep tabs on those projects with medium or high levels of risk and take whatever actions are appropriate to help get things back on track.

This risk assessment tool has been designed especially for the needs of the program that it serves. It is still under development with additional factors being considered -- such as percentage of milestones completed by the Recipient, more refined financing data, and other metrics. It may be possible to refine this risk assessment tool to suit the needs of other DOE programs.