NIST has established a robust governance and management structure to ensure that ARRA funds are managed in an effective and efficient manner. The governance and management structure includes: the ARRA Steering Committee, the ARRA Management and Oversight Committee, the ARRA Project Management Office, the ARRA Project Management Program, Standardized Action Plans, Action Plan Owners, Operating Unit Coordinators, Project Managers, and an ARRA Risk Management Team.
The ARRA Steering Committee is responsible for the resolution of issues related to, and the implementation of, the numerous ARRA legal provisions, regulatory requirements, OMB and DoC policies and procedures, and NIST policies and procedures. The ARRA Management and Oversight Committee is responsible for the ongoing monitoring of ARRA Action Plans (see below) to ensure that goals are achieved and deadlines are met. The Project Management Office (PMO) was established to ensure plans are adequately developed, progress of projects is monitored, project interdependencies are identified and managed, and that risks to projects are identified and mitigated. Each ARRA project must have an Action Plan developed in a manner consistent with the requirements of the NIST Project Management Program. Each Action Plan is owned by an Action Plan Owner, who is either an Operating Unit Director or a Chief Officer. To ensure the proper coordination of ARRA activities within each Operating Unit, the role of the ARRA OU Coordinator was developed. OU Coordinators work directly with each ARRA Project Managers to ensure Recovery Act projects are successfully managed. Project Managers are responsible for developing and managing project schedules, issues, risks, budget and resources.
There are more than 100 projects funded by the ARRA in the STRS appropriation. They include: scientific and measurement equipment, MS&E grants, MS&E fellowships, Postdoctoral fellowships, and contracts for small business innovation research, Smart Grid, cyber security, and IT infrastructure. As stated earlier, each project must have an Action Plan.
Each Project Manager is required to submit a monthly Action Plan status/update to the PMO. The monthly Action Plan requires project managers to document risks, issues and potential problems that may occur and would have a negative impact on the project's schedule, budget, resources or functionality. Processes and tools are being developed to consolidate the Action Plan information from the 100-plus ARRA projects. The consolidation of this information will constitute an ARRA Dashboard that will be produced monthly. This dashboard will include information on: project status, jobs created, funds obligated, and risks and mitigations. ARRA Dashboard information will be presented and discussed monthly with the ARRA Management and Oversight Committee. This Committee currently consists of the Deputy Director, Chief Financial Officer, and the Chief Scientist.
NIST is in the process of expanding its internal controls staff to ensure adequate risk identification and management for all ARRA activities. The Risk Management Team is responsible for leading NIST’s efforts to: identify and group related risks, prioritize risks, develop and implement risk mitigation strategies, track risk mitigation efforts, and report monthly to the ARRA PMO on various components of the risk management program.
NIST uses the Recovery Act Accountability Framework and Objectives to properly assess how well the funding recipients meet the funding objectives and track against well-defined performance metrics. The current OMB Circular A-123 financial controls are adequate and demonstrate no material weaknesses or significant deficiencies over the following cycles that impact ARRA spending: Grants, Revenue, Purchasing, and Budget Execution.