The overall purpose of project and programmatic 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 and contract performance 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 project and contract objectives, 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,” as well as the EM Cleanup Policy, “Requirements for Management of the Office of Environmental Managements Cleanup Program,” which both recognize that independent reviews are valuable in assessing the status of projects and contracts. Environmental Management’s goal is to conduct peer reviews for each capital asset project and/or contract at least once per year. Environmental Management has been performing peer reviews since 2010.

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

  • Determining if the project and/or contract meets the mission and programmatic need;
  • Evaluating technical approach and project/contract definitions;
  • Evaluating the readiness of projects to proceed to the next Critical Decision;
  • Determining whether proposed projects and operations activities and their acquisition and execution strategies represent  technically valid, cost-effective, realistic means of accomplishing stated objectives;
  • Assessing whether project and contractual objectives can be met within the cost and schedule baselines established by DOE or whether alternative solutions may be necessary;
  • Evaluating and managing project and contract risks, issues, and challenges;
  • Assessing the status of project and contract activities;
  • 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, performance and work 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 and/or federal cleanup director in response to the charge to the committee.