Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig


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By:Virginia A. Greiman

Scholarly Works

And where was the Federal Highway Administration? Every time there was a major breakdown, they were Johnny-come-lately. They were certainly part of the problem in [when cost overruns were revealed]. The problem in the Commonwealth was both structural and one of expertise.

I was appalled by the lack of governance lines [of responsibility] among competing transportation agencies. You had a state highway department with responsibilities in western Massachusetts, but with no responsibilities over anything on the Turnpike, and a separate authority for the Turnpike. What kind of governance structure is that? It took me several years to even believe that things were as bifurcated in fact as they were on paper.

I could not believe [that anyone] would have cobbled together a system like that, of agencies so independent of each other. The Commonwealth needs to protect against that. By law, they would be protected from removal and would report to the top level of authorities. In designing and overseeing projects, engineers are not always of one mind. As problems emerge with the Artery, there could be varying opinions about how to test, how to interpret results, how to fix a problem. If there is disagreement about how to deal with a problem, about whether a test is too costly, about the kinds of tradeoffs being made—those must be delegated to someone very high up in the organization.

Calling attention to such disagreements must not be optional. It should be a firing offense not to bring these issues up. The Big Dig experienced very material difficulties. You start with huge cost and schedule slippage and now you have safety and quality control issues that really, really matter, and probably more issues to come. As the number of megaprojects in this country has increased three- or fourfold in just the last eight years, there are big public policy lessons to learn from the Artery project, from almost every sector one can imagine.

Natsios had been secretary for administration and finance for the Commonwealth since Walsh School of Foreign Service. I would abolish the Turnpike Authority and all the authorities and move them back to state government. The authorities have had a very bad history. For the sake of efficiency and speed, he wanted to short-circuit the regulatory systems of state government.


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Oddly enough, it was because of what I experienced in Boston that I refused to ignore federal procurement and regulatory systems when it came to rebuilding Iraq and other work at USAID. And this was not a small debate [within the agency]. On the one side, you want to get the work done without mismanagement and scandal, which the laws were created to do. But the laws and rules can be onerous when you want to act quickly.

With the Big Dig, because of state and federal pressures on costs, the other set of issues—disclosure and checks and balances and quality control—were subordinated over time. Increasing costs distorted the balance needed between transparency and accountability and quality control on the one side, and the cost issue, which had too much focus. Efficiency won over oversight and that had a consequence, some of which we are seeing now. And you need to put restrictions on who can be on these boards, which too often consist of former legislators or political appointees.

When we created a small committee to choose my successor [at the Turnpike], we had deans of the engineering schools. You have all this great talent at universities across Massachusetts. You need to have agency boards made up of deans of engineering, of public administration, of law. Another issue is the salary for civil servants who work on these major projects. I suggest a separate salary structure, not one to be abused, and an ordered, publicly disclosed system to hire highly qualified people for the life of the specific project. One reason Big Dig costs went up so much and made people focus on cost to the exclusion of other things such as quality control is that our whole society is very litigious.

Lots of political compromises are made to purchase—legally—the support of different interest groups to complete the project. With a very complex and expensive project, a whole series of decisions are made sequentially to get it moving. Ultimately, you need statutory relief, some constraints on the ability to sue on certain kinds of projects. Joseph Nigro was secretary-treasurer and general agent for the Metropolitan Boston Building Trades Council from to That all helped the Big Dig have very few lost-time hours, and that in turn saved the project money.

This was because we worked under a project labor agreement [under which unions agree not to strike in exchange for guarantees of union wages and other benefits for all workers on the job]. Setting a reading intention helps you organise your reading.

Megaproject Management : Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig - enhifiter.tk

You can filter on reading intentions from the list , as well as view them within your profile. Setting up reading intentions help you organise your course reading. It makes it easy to scan through your lists and keep track of progress. Here's an example of what they look like:. Your reading intentions are also stored in your profile for future reference. Identify the attributes of the project that will grow and change over time.

Recognize that the accuracy of cost estimates vary throughout the project.

Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig

Adopt a baseline for cost control during inception and update the baseline when schedule, scope, and quality change. Estimate inflation at the inception of the project for the entire duration of the project. Utilize management reserves solely within the framework for which they are maintained. Finally, the most important recommendation is to establish an open and transparent process throughout the project.

The Road from Distressway to Expressway Part II

This is a necessity for accurate and realistic cost estimation and budgeting. This should result in more successful projects and greater benefits for all project stakeholders. Akinci, B. Factors affecting contractors' risk of cost overburden, Journal of Management in Engineering, 14 1 , 67— Anderson, S.

Chang, A. Reasons for cost and schedule increases for engineering design projects. Journal of Management in Engineering, 18 1 , 29— Crawford, L. Cooke-Davies, T. Governance and support in the sponsoring of projects and programs. Project Management Journal, 39 , S43—S Flyvbjerg, B. Mega projects and risk, an anatomy of ambition.

Underestimating costs in public works projects, error or lie?

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Journal of the American Planning Association, 68 3 , — General Accounting Office. Federal-aid highways cost and oversight of major highway and bridge projects: issues and options, GAOT , Washington, D. Genus, A. Managing large-scale technology and inter-organizational relations: The case of the Channel Tunnel. Research Policy, 26 , — Gourvish, T. The political economy of the Channel tunnel: An international business-government perspective.

Business and Economic History Online, 4. Kanabar, V. MBA fundamentals: Project management. New York: Kaplan Publishing. Kirkland, C. Klakegg, O. Governance frameworks for public project development and estimation. Project Management Journal , 39, S27—S Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. Project Management Monthly. McCormack, J. The John W. Newtown Square, PA: Author. World Bank.

Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig
Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig
Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig
Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig
Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig
Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig
Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig
Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig
Megaproject Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig

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