Policy Goals Are Changing. Resources Are Limited. Programs Need to Start Fast and Deliver Immediately.
With ASI’s Support, a Critical, First-Ever Program Showed Results in Half the Time Predicted
Just nine months before a presidential transition, the agency embarked on a mission-critical new program. If the new start missed its deadlines and landed after the election, the agency itself could be imperiled, leaving the millions it serves in physical jeopardy.
The best-case prediction? It would take 18 months or more.
- No federal agency had engaged this type of service before.
- The risk modeling required personally identifiable information and a secure, CIO-approved, IT system. Getting an authority to operate (ATO) for such a system typically takes 12 months or more in the agency’s home department.
- The estimated cost of acquiring the service triggered rigorous management reviews requiring extensive documentation and departmental approval that usually takes six to 12 months.
- Program funding hung in the balance due to an anticipated continuing resolution that would bar the start of a new program.
- The agency lacked in-house expertise in operating the new service creating a huge learning curve within a compressed timeframe.
- Getting the program up in time required participation, approvals and assistance from offices and entities and the departmental, agency and office level, as well as from external stakeholders.
The odds for success were low. So low that some players bet the effort wouldn’t even get started.
ASI raised the ante with an out-of-the-box, but within-the-rules, combination of change management; purposeful, collaborative cross-departmental engagement; ongoing market research and industry involvement; and just-in-time learning.
The ASI-unique two-tiered program governance approach crushed status-quo silos; halted internecine battling; united program, procurement, legal, IT, security and other offices as needed; and ensured easy and immediate elevation and resolution of issues.
The demonstration of strong management principles and practices—including extensive risk management and contingency planning—ultimately satisfied the rigorous program administration requirements, significantly reducing reviews and sign-offs. Similarly, rapid issue escalation and visible project governance nearly halved the usual time to achieve an ATO.
The agency applied elements of an ASI-inspired market research methodology to enable continuous interchange with industry and other governments that advanced agency understanding of supplier operations. As a result, the program created a market research board that will ensure government keeps on harvesting intelligence from suppliers.
ASI program management cut start-up risks so a new program could reduce risks for Americans.