On the Threshold of FY13 – Challenges and Opportunities

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Ortiz_ James226x170As we gather for Director Status Review (DSR) this September we are at the threshold of the new fiscal year. There is a lot of anticipation as to what the new fiscal year (FY) will bring, so here is a summary from the IPAO perspective.

We anticipate having another busy year of review activity in FY13 as shown by our review manifest which was approved last week by the APMC. Review activity will be especially heavy for reviews that establish Agency commitments for several Category 1 projects in human spaceflight development and space science missions. We are also beginning the new FY with new members of IPAO management and with a permanently staffed business management team. These staffing improvements will provide stability to the operation of the organization.

While a firm manifest gives us certainty about our work, several areas of uncertainty loom on the horizon. The fiscal situation of the U.S. Government and the corrective measures being considered to improve it could have repercussions for both the work that we are taking on next year, as well as the resources available to execute this work. The electoral cycle could produce changes in leadership and/or priority areas. These areas of uncertainty are completely outside our control but we could (and have) taken prudent steps to mitigate these uncertainties. We have continued to implement the initiatives that resulted from the Value Stream Mapping (VSM) to lean our processes and to get more “bang for the buck.” We had proposed an approach to prioritize our work and have received APMC approval to implement it in case we run into resource shortages during the year. We are carefully (and conservatively) planning the execution of our budget so we have the flexibility to recover if we face cuts within the year. We have improved our management and the configuration control of our planning products so we can more rapidly react to changes. In a nutshell, the name of the game is flexibility. We have taken all prudent steps so we can react to changes rapidly and efficiently.

Any changes bring challenges and opportunities as well. This year we had the chance to perform a new type of review activity (the progress assessment of JWST). I anticipate the following year will also bring new opportunities for our organization to enhance our contributions to the Agency and I am looking forward to it.

Thank you for your continued support and your commitment to the Agency’s independent review function and happy new FY!

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Thank you for your continued support and commitment to the Agency’s independent review function.
James N. Ortiz, PhD
IPAO Director

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