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How to Measure and Manage $40 Billion in Projects: PARS - Project Assessment and Reporting System

Project Assessment and Reporting System (PARS)

In the 1990's, the GAO determined that too many of the billions of dollars' worth of the Department of Energy's engineering and construction projects were over budget and behind schedule. In an independent review the National Research Council (NRC) found that DOE did not have a reliable system for gauging cost, schedule, and performance for all its projects. Program offices within DOE had different reporting and review schedules and were using different criteria to measure progress. Following the NRC's recommendation, an agency-wide assessment and reporting system became a requirement under DOE's Project Management Reform Initiative.

After determining that available software was insufficient for DOE's needs, PPC built the web-based Project Assessment and Reporting System (PARS) from the ground up. Based on Earned Value Management principles, PARS allows managers to collect accurate and timely data to generate both standard and ad hoc reports. And it is designed to avoid placing overly onerous requirements on a field staff newly charged with providing information on their projects monthly.

Once a project has been set up in PARS, field staff, working from a simple web interface on their desktops, need only input incremental data each month. Data fields have been kept to a minimum (about two dozen). The data is forwarded to the federal project director for approval and then committed to the database. Newly entered data or altered data is redlined until accepted by the approving officer. Regular monthly reports reach the Deputy Secretary's office in a couple of weeks. For additional analysis, anyone using the system can, through a series of queries, create any type of ad hoc report needed.

Using the data and reports generated in PARS, DOE already has been able to flag projects with insurmountable cost or performance issues and then stop work -- saving millions of dollars in delays and cost overruns. And the discipline of monthly reporting on performance reinforces a climate of accountability up and down the chain of responsibility.

PARS is has tracked more than 150 active projects worth approximately $40 billion.

"PPC has developed, deployed and supported an outstanding project and has far exceeded government expectations . . . ." - PARS Project Manager, Department of Energy

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