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Peer Reviews

The overall purpose of project peer reviews is to determine whether the scope of programs, projects, or activities; the underlying assumptions regarding scientific objectives and supporting technology; the cost and schedule estimates; the contingency provisions; and the management approach are valid and credible within Department of Energy (DOE) budgetary and administrative constraints.

Reviews are conducted by the Office of Environmental Management and are intended to reduce the risk of project failure by identifying existing and potential problems in a timely manner so that prompt and effective resolution is possible. These reviews assist the field in successfully completing the project, as well as identifying areas where Environmental Management senior leadership needs to focus additional resources.

Peer Reviews are intended to meet the requirements of DOE Order 413.3B, Program and Project Management for the Acquisition of Capital Assets, which recognizes that independent reviews are valuable in assessing the status of its projects. Environmental Management’s goal is to conduct peer reviews for each capital asset project with an approved critical decision twice per year. Environmental Management has been performing peer reviews since 2010:

  • In FY2010, 8 project peer reviews were completed 
  • In FY2011, 4 project peer reviews were completed 
  • In FY2012, 35 project peer reviews were completed
  • In FY2013, 25 project peer reviews were completed
  • In FY2014, 20 project peer reviews were completed
  • In FY2015, 18 project peer reviews were completed

EM uses the Office of Science model for peer reviews to meet the following objectives:

  • Determining if the project meets the mission need;
  • Evaluating technical approach and project definitions;
  • Evaluating the readiness of the projects to proceed to the next the Critical Decision;
  • Determining whether the proposed project and its acquisition and execution strategy represents a technically valid, cost-effective, realistic means of accomplishing its stated objectives;
  • Assessing whether the project can be delivered within the cost and schedule baselines established by DOE or whether alternative solutions may be preferable;
  • Evaluating and managing project risks, issues, and challenges;
  • Assessing the status of the project;
  • Providing constructive recommendations for alternatives or improvements;
  • Reviewing corrective action items from previous reviews; and
  • Assessing the management organization, experience, knowledge, and adequacy of staffing, work assignment process, project management control systems, risk management, baseline and technical work management, quality management, and Environmental Safety and Health (ES&H)/NEPA compliance.

The results (or final report) of each review are transmitted to the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and the federal project director in response to the charge to the committee.