Robert F. Brese, CDR, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Robert Brese

The POG is a much needed and significant addition to project management literature. Well done!"

We have all read with wonder and dismay the headlines of project failures resulting in major cost and schedule overruns or even environmental contamination, injuries, and deaths. In hindsight, the indicators of potential failure are always evident, and we wonder why no one saw and corrected the problems before it was too late.

The recurring lack of trained and risk-managed oversight is why Herb Marshall’s Project Oversight Guide (POG) is a new, critical reference for any private company or public sector organization considering or executing projects with potentially high failure consequences.

  • Westinghouse Electric Company declared bankruptcy due to billions of dollars in financial losses from nuclear power plant construction projects.
  • Projected costs for a U.S. Government superconducting super collider in Texas ballooned from $4.4 billion USD to over $11 billion and was abandoned after $2 billion had already been spent.
  • Boston’s Big Dig, known as America’s most troubled highway megaproject, was a seven-year construction project which took more than 15 years and had a 190% cost overrun.
  • Two of Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft models were grounded for over two years following major, fatal crashes.

In the case of the Boeing 737 grounding, the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said. “The Max crashes … were the horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing’s engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s management and grossly insufficient oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration.”

Catastrophic project failures often have one major commonality, and it is not usually or just poor project management. Instead, it is inadequate project oversight, a distinctly different discipline that is not only necessary, but critical for major project success.

The POG leverages numerous case studies, along with Mr. Marshall’s extensive project oversight experience in the highly successful U.S. Naval Reactors program, to educate the reader on techniques for executing project oversight and standing up an effective program. The POG is more than a textbook. It is a practical, page-turning journey to project success. I followed these same principles from my Naval Reactors experience when tasked in 2005 to stand up a new nuclear physical security performance assurance office at the National Nuclear Security Administration in the U.S. Department of Energy. Any individual, company, or government organization accountable for the success of a major project or a project with potentially high failure consequences should put the concepts and techniques of the POG into practice now.

Robert F. Brese, CDR, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Former U.S. Navy Nuclear Submarine Officer and
Founding Director, NNSA Office of Security Performance Assurance, U.S. Department of Energy