Uncovering the effectiveness of the QMS-ISO process
January 12, 2012
The Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) was initiated in 1974 to identify, investigate and clean up or control sites that were part of the Nation's early atomic energy and weapons programs. All of the FUSRAP sites were originally under the control of different government agencies prior to being turned over to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for investigation or remedial action. Given the sensitive nature of the materials located on these sites, along with the element of uncertainty stemming from not knowing what exactly was buried or where, the cost to clean up these sites is difficult to estimate accurately. Too often, the inaccuracy of estimates leads to unrealistic project costs and schedules.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District's FUSRAP site in Painesville, Ohio, faced the same uncertainties as other FUSRAP projects, except this time something was different. Buffalo District's Environmental Branch leadership recognized that there was not a standard procedure in place to account for the project's inherent uncertainties. In order to accurately estimate project costs and schedules one would be needed.
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) concepts were used to identify the root cause of the problem. Using a Preventive Action for Continuous Quality Improvement approach, Project Manager Stephen Buechi and chief of the Environmental Engineering Team David Frothingham worked together with Todd Kufel and Jim Wryk of the Cost and Project Engineering Team and Fred Boglione, chief of the Environmental Branch, to adapt an existing process called Cost & Schedule Risk Analysis (CSRA). They were then successful in applying it to multiple FUSRAP projects in the Remediation Phase. This revised process is currently awaiting publication in the Quality Management System.
The CSRA defines the process along with roles and responsibilities for estimating and communicating costs to complete Hazardous, Toxic and Radioactive Waste (HTRW) projects. "The process allows us to quantify the uncertainty and apply it to our yearly budget and schedule estimates," said Frothingham.
Now that the process is in place and has been successfully executed, three other FUSRAP sites in the Buffalo District and other FUSRAP sites across the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Ohio River Division could potentially benefit from it. "The intent is to apply this process to all LRD FUSRAP sites during the Remediation Phase," said Buechi. "It also serves as an effective communication tool when submitting budgets to Corps Headquarters."
The CSRA team successfully modeled the effectiveness of the QMS-ISO system by identifying an issue, coming up with a solution, implementing it and ultimately showing how the process not only benefits a single project, but how it can be expanded and applied to multiple projects.