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The Three C’s Of CPIC Success at TSA

By Robert Nau

With budgets and resources stretched more than ever, portfolios are under fire to demonstrate the value of their investments through sound business cases. One way to show soundness is to demonstrate the business cases are compliant and coherent. But how is this accomplished?

Based on my experience supporting teams through many Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) cycles, I’ve seen business cases become compliant and coherent when the team applies so-called “soft” skills to execute applicable governance processes in a repeatable, systematic way. This can often mean the difference between a lower or a higher rating (e.g., “green” score). For example, in the past two years, I’ve seen TSA achieve an all “Green” rating on its entire OMB 300 Portfolio by bringing these skills to bear.

Specifically, I’ve found that the success of TSA with its CPIC scores can be traced back to the “Three C’s” of Communication, Collaboration and Cooperation and having a “Strong” CPIC Administrator (Team) governing the CPIC Process.

We’ll look at each of the three C’s in turn, but first, a quick reminder on why the CPIC investment management process is important, and as we reported in another recent post, is so much more than a “paper tiger” reporting requirement. For both IT and Non-IT investments CPIC:

• Enables all parties associated with an investment to have defined roles and responsibilities.

• Allows agencies to better govern and manage their portfolios, increasing return on investment (ROI).

• Provides a simple and flexible but also efficient and effective process.

• Provides investment oversight by emphasizing reporting on variances from approved milestones and issues requiring executive decisions.

• Enables the appropriate governing body to make sound investment decisions based on the results of clear, comprehensive analysis and factual evidence.

There are plenty of reasons to establish a strong CPIC process. Here are the “Three C’s” TSA follows to make it work:

Communication: The CPIC Administrator (Team) is the primary interface with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). They attend the bi-weekly CPIC Administrator Group (CAG) meeting and are kept abreast of the latest developments in CPIC. At this meeting guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and DHS regarding the CPIC process is disseminated. By maintaining continuous communication with DHS, the CPIC Administrator is able to keep a pulse on current events, and communicate relevant information the Program Managers will need. The relevant guidance is then communicated two ways – via email and then posted on the CPIC iShare page in the form of an announcement. This enables the CPIC Administrator to quickly pass along focused information, but also provides the Program Manager (PM) a place to return for information/guidance.

Collaboration: TSA’s Collaborative relationship revolves around several key individuals, namely the CPIC Administrator, PM and the Integrated Product Team (IPT). At TSA to assist in alleviating the burden on the PM, we recommend the PM form and continuously use an IPT to develop and maintain the OMB 300, and its key supporting artifacts. This helps to divide up the development business to several individuals and ensure stakeholder voices are heard early and often. The PM and IPT meet weekly to discuss the ongoing development of business. Often the CPIC Administrator attends and tries to provide guidance to address issues that have been identified. If needed, the CPIC Administrator will set up collaborative sessions with the DHS Subject Matter Experts (SME) and IPT to resolve specific or systemic issues/questions identified by the SME.

Cooperation: At TSA, PMs and the CPIC Administrator continuously work to foster a Cooperative environment. Let me provide you an example. Last year a new Non-IT Program was required to develop its first OMB 300. While developing its OMB 300 the PM/Program soon realized that several key accompanying artifacts were also needed. As the CPIC Administrator team, we have an enterprise view of the investments. Based on this holistic lens, we reached out to two of the other Non-IT PMs/Programs and asked if the new program could view their documentation and use it as a guide in developing their documents. The PMs agreed and we helped the new Non-IT program successfully develop compliant, coherent, and timely documentation and achieve a “Green” rating on its first OMB 300 submission to DHS. Without the assistance of other PMs/Program it would have been difficult for the new Non-IT Program to achieve success right out of the gate.

Achieving an all “Green” Portfolio once is difficult, but doing so two years in a row is almost impossible, based on my experience in CPIC. The credit lies with dedicated people at TSA, who practice The Three C’s” of CPIC success every day. The CPIC Administrator lays the foundation, the PMs and IPT develop their business cases. Both groups function selflessly, reaching out to programs in need to provide support.

Reprinted from the Integrity Matters blog – Perspectives on Acquisition and Program Management

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