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IPAO Director's Blog

Last IPAO Director's Blog

Posted on Dec 7, 2015 by jortiz.

It is fitting to make this blog the one that closes not only the year, but the organization.  IPAO closes with a high level of professionalism that has been its trademark.  As it has been repeatedly mentioned over the last month, the organization set the standard for independent assessment and it is now time for the Agency to take the next step and pass the banner so that independent assessment is embedded in the direct management of our missions.  As we have consistently done in the past, IPAO is responding to this new direction in a true professional fashion by quickly re-planning work, taking care of each other while we transition to our new assignments, assisting and providing support to the organizations taking on their new responsibilities, and orderly closing the office to ensure that corporate knowledge and information are preserved.  Your response to this significant change to the organization and your personal and professional lives shows great credit to all.  To all past and present IPAO staff, in the name of the Agency, I want to sincerely thank you for your efforts and for all you have accomplished to help inform a multitude of critical decisions that have moved the Agency and the nation forward with our space program.  Each of you can rest assured that we have fulfilled our mission.  On a personal level, I will miss each and every one of you but I take great comfort as I see all of us taking on new challenges and moving our careers forward that the future is bright for all!

James Ortiz

Outlook for the rest of 2015 and into 2016

Posted on July 13, 2015 by jortiz.

As we meet for this Director Status Review (DSR) I wanted to reflect on a couple of important topics: our people and our manifest.   First and foremost is our people.  As it was mentioned at our Dec 2014 DSR, we are embarked in a significant workforce transition directed to enhance the stability in our civil service review manager workforce and to strengthen our civil service programmatic analyst staffing....Read More

The IPAO Environment

Posted on December 8, 2014 by jortiz.

As is customary this time of the year, I reflect on the year we are completing and look forward to the year ahead.  This time I think we should not only reflect on the accomplishments from our work (and there have been many) but to reflect on the environment in which we accomplish our work.   You may be wondering what I mean by "environment" so let me elaborate.  The environment I refer to is the context in which we perform our work.  The IPAO environment is complex, challenging, and dynamic and everyone that is part of our organization needs to have full cognizance of this environment and understand that acceptance of these conditions is part of life in IPAO...Read More


Messages from 2014 Virtual Leadership Summit

Posted on June 17, 2014 by jortiz.

Every year or so, Charlie Bolden convenes an activity to bring agency senior leadership together (albeit virtually) to share information on current topics and to gather feedback from the participants. I wanted to dedicate this blog to some of the key messages from the recent 2014 Leadership Summit that I think particularly resonate with the IPAO. On leadership, Charlie described what he considers are the 3 most important factors a leader needs to be effective: know your stuff; know your people; and know yourself.  I consider that everyone in IPAO is called to exercise leadership either as a review manager by leading one of our important reviews, as programmatic analyst leading a team of analysts performing the integrated programmatic analyses for the review; or as business professional leading a new procurement, etc…, you get the idea. So Charlie’s advice I think is very wise and relevant to us.  To be effective, we need to...Read More

An Eventful Year

Posted on December 18, 2013 by jortiz.

As we gather for our last Director’s Status Review (DSR) of 2013 a look back at our activities and accomplishments this year reveals a year marked with unique challenges and opportunities. Our work plan for 2013 included several very significant “firsts” including the first PDR for the Exploration Systems Development (ESD), the first set of integrated reviews of the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), and several new starts including OSIRIS-Rex, InSight, and SWOT. This year we also worked closely with the Mission Directorates to address those projects that experienced issues such as SGSS and ICESat-2. We closed out the review cycle and had the satisfaction to experience the successful flights of TDRS K, LDCM and MAVEN; all successful projects both technically and programmatically having completed development within the agency cost and schedule commitments. We continued supporting the transition through the lifecycle of several other projects and programs such as Sofia, ISS, RPS, SCAN, Orion, and ESD CP. We also continued supporting the agency by leading assessments outside of the SRB process such as the 2nd panel assessment of JWST. As you can see, the IPAO team continues to be at the very heart of the agency’s most critical work!...Read More

On Enhanced Communication of Review Results 
Posted on July 28, 2013 by jortiz.

One of the areas we have had significant discussions within IPAO (and a source of concern and frustration) has dealt with whether the agency’s leadership is getting the full benefit of the SRB’s assessment and analysis, performed during the lifecycle reviews, to understand the full readiness picture of the programs and projects to characterize their technical, cost, schedule, and risk posture going forward. We have devoted many hours to improving our processes and analytical capabilities and have worked very hard to document what we do, resulting in stable operational procedures and standardized templates for our TORs and programmatic products.  We continue to work hard to improve the understating of requirements and expectations for the data and analyses needed to support the reviews by conducting proactive and inclusive discussions during dedicated planning sessions, with the programs and projects that resulted in improved readiness of products supporting the SRB activities....Read More

Flexibility is the Name of the Game
Posted on July 6, 2013 by jortiz.

As we assemble for the first Director Status Review (DSR) of 2013 a look at the agenda reveals that IPAO continues to operate in an environment of significant change. While we all know that change is a continuous part of our environment and that it presents challenges as well as great opportunities, it is important to recognize that a key to adapting to change and for taking full advantage of its potential opportunities is flexibility. As we will discuss at DSR, the fiscal situation of the federal government is driving changes that have a direct impact to the way we operate. One manifestation of these changes is the reduction in travel as the federal government is looking for cost savings. These travel reductions are taking affect across the agency and will have an extensive effect in the way we work. As we prioritize our travel to those activities requiring broad levels of interaction, we will need to be flexible in considering alternative ways of interaction within the SRB and with the program/project as we perform the diverse activities necessary to plan and perform our reviews (such as remote participation or a mixture of personnel attending some activities in person and remotely). We have made key investments in IT capabilities in the office (LifeSize, WebEx, Vidyo,..) and have developed proficiency in using these capabilities; let’s take full advantage of them to enable these changes. These flexibilities also extend to interactions amongst each other as we continue to implement our geographically distributed organization. This DSR is a great example of that. The IPAO LifeSize ViTS equipment is now deployed across several centers for us to use, and I strongly encourage you to use it, not only for large meetings such as the DSR or staff meetings, but also for smaller meetings or even for one-on-one meetings (please consider using it in your meetings with me)....Read More

On the Threshold of FY13 – Challenges and Opportunities
Posted on June 27, 2012 by jortiz.

As we gather for Director Status Review (DSR) this September we are at the threshold of the new fiscal year. There is a lot of anticipation as to what the new fiscal year (FY) will bring, so here is a summary from the IPAO perspective. We anticipate having another busy year of review activity in FY13 as shown by our review manifest which was approved last week by the APMC. Review activity will be especially heavy for reviews that establish Agency commitments for several Category 1 projects in human spaceflight development and space science missions. We are also beginning the new FY with new members of IPAO management and with a permanently staffed business management team. These staffing improvements will provide stability to the operation of the organization. While a firm manifest gives us certainty about our work, several areas of uncertainty loom on the horizon. The fiscal situation of the U.S. Government and the corrective measures being considered to improve it could have repercussions for both the work that we are taking on next year, as well as the resources available to execute this work. The electoral cycle could produce changes in leadership and/or priority areas. These areas of uncertainty are completely outside our control but we could (and have) taken prudent steps to mitigate these uncertainties. We have continued to implement the initiatives that resulted from the Value Stream Mapping (VSM) to lean our processes and to get more “bang for the buck.” We had proposed an approach to prioritize our work and have received APMC approval to implement it in case we run into resource shortages during the year....Read More

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IPAO Leadership
James Ortiz shares insights from the 2014 Virtual Leadership Summit in the latest IPAO Director's Blog entry.
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