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Industry Leaders Debate Proper Actions For Risk Management In The 21st Century

By | December 6, 2000

      Closer attention to detail, open dialogue from project beginning to project end throughout all mission levels and proper knowledge transference topped the list of actions to be adopted for future space missions. Space executives concluded to these agenda items Nov. 30 when more than 300 attended the Third Annual Risk Management 2000 conference in McLean, Va. The two-day symposium was sponsored by The Aerospace Corp.

      “Project teams do not have the right to move away from sound processes,” said Michael Greenfield, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for space and mission assurance. He added that one significant mistake recently made was retiring valuable knowledge along with senior management.

      “There were some changes in the way we phased people out of positions. Twenty-four percent of the NASA workforce had left and those replacing them did not fully understand the risk associated with such as shift,” Greenfield said.

      Projects, therefore, became simple formula standards without concrete significance tied to each mission phase. “Unless someone has been around for some time, the meaning behind the standards get lost,” he added.

      David Crosse, Delta mission assurance director for The Boeing Co. [BA], concurred with Greenfield and added risk management is solving the problem before it occurs.

      “We had underestimated the Delta 3 design so with Delta 4, we raised our technical oversight and improved our risk management process. We now have a clear definition of rules and responsibility across the board and as in-depth as system engineering does,” Crosse said.

      By far, the overlying theme presented was the immediate need to focus most attention and resources to individual phase performance.

      “Dollars spent on performance pay dividends and that is where I believe we should take our dollars,” said Manuel De Ponte, corporate chief architect/engineer for the Aerospace Corp. “Working together is the only way we will succeed with limited resource and assure proper risk management is met.”

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