Agencies get cost-estimating advice from GAO

The Government Accountability Office has published its first manual to help federal, state, and local government agencies develop more reliable cost estimates to better manage government projects. The guide applies to civilian and defense projects managed by government organizations or private contractors, said Gene Dodaro, acting comptroller general.

The guide, released March 2, seeks to help agencies produce well-documented, comprehensive, accurate and credible estimates with a formalized approach to cost estimating based on best practices, he said. Managing a cost estimate involves continually updating the estimate with actual data as it becomes available, revising the estimate to reflect changes, and analyzing differences between estimated and actual costs, GAO said.

“Government agencies will be better able to avoid common problems, such as cost overruns, missed deadlines and performance shortfalls,” Dodaro said. “To get better results, programs will need higher levels of knowledge when they start and standardized monitoring metrics."

The guide also emphasized that agencies use earned value management, a project-management tool that compares completed work to expected outcomes, in setting realistic program baselines and managing risk. In future audits, GAO plans to use the new guide to assess the accuracy of agencies’ cost estimates and determine whether programs are on schedule, he said.

GAO explained how to manage program costs after a contract has been awarded and presented 48 case studies that illustrate typical pitfalls and successes in cost estimating, including some from the Defense Department and NASA.

The guide can be found here.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

Featured

  • Telecommunications
    Stock photo ID: 658810513 By asharkyu

    GSA extends EIS deadline to 2023

    Agencies are getting up to three more years on existing telecom contracts before having to shift to the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions vehicle.

  • Workforce
    Shutterstock image ID: 569172169 By Zenzen

    OMB looks to retrain feds to fill cyber needs

    The federal government is taking steps to fill high-demand, skills-gap positions in tech by retraining employees already working within agencies without a cyber or IT background.

  • Acquisition
    GSA Headquarters (Photo by Rena Schild/Shutterstock)

    GSA to consolidate multiple award schedules

    The General Services Administration plans to consolidate dozens of its buying schedules across product areas including IT and services to reduce duplication.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.