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NPR 7120.8A
Effective Date: September 14, 2018
Expiration Date: September 14, 2028
Printable Format (PDF)

Subject: NASA Research and Technology Program and Project Management Requirements (Revalidated w/change 5)

Responsible Office: Associate Administrator

| TOC | ChangeLog | Preface | Chapter1 | Chapter2 | Chapter3 | Chapter4 | Chapter5 | AppendixA | AppendixB | AppendixC | AppendixD | AppendixE | AppendixF | AppendixG | AppendixH | AppendixI | AppendixJ | AppendixK | AppendixL | AppendixM | ALL |

Appendix A. Definition of Terms

Acquisition. The process for obtaining the systems, research, services, construction, and supplies that NASA needs to fulfill its missions. Acquisition—which may include procurement (contracting for products and services)—begins with an idea or proposal that aligns with the NASA Strategic Plan and fulfills an identified need and ends with the completion of the program or project or the final disposition of the product or service.

Acquisition Strategy Meeting.A decision-making forum where senior Agency management reviews and approves program and project acquisition strategies. The ASM focuses on considerations such as impacting the Agency workforce, maintaining core capabilities, make-or-buy supporting Center assignments, potential partners, and risk. (See NPD 1000.5 for more information on ASMs.)

Agency Program Management Council. The senior management group, chaired by the NASA Associate Administrator or designee, that is responsible for reviewing Formulation performance, recommending approval, and overseeing implementation of programs and specified projects according to Agency commitments, priorities, and policies.

Approval. Authorization by a required management official to proceed with a proposed course of action. (When multiple approvals are required, all need to be obtained to proceed.) Approvals are documented in retrievable program and project records.

Center Management Council. The council at a Center that performs oversight of programs and projects by evaluating all program and project work executed at that Center.

Component Facilities. Complexes that are geographically separated from the NASA Center or institution to which they are assigned but are still part of the Agency.

Configuration Management.A technical and management process applying appropriate processes, resources, and controls to establish and maintain consistency between product configuration information and the product throughout the product life cycle.

Continuation Assessment. A key decision point for a project. During CAs, the technical progress, cost/schedule, top risks and threats, and continued suitability of the project's product end state are determined. A discussion of the status of project progress, lessons learned, any advancements in the state of the art achieved, progression of the project towards its goals, any achievements that have reduced the level of uncertainty in the field, and any results from IAs should also be discussed. CAs are formal reviews but the decision process can be scaled to fit the project size/scope. For small projects, a gathering of key stakeholders may suffice to discuss the project's progress and to refine forward planning. Larger projects may need a more formal review with a wider audience and a more formal process for gathering comments, dispositioning them, and refining plans. A decision to redirect, continue, or terminate a program is made at a CA.

Critical Technology Elements. Elements of a project that are essential in meeting overall technology requirements.

Customer/Beneficiary. The intended beneficiary or user of the R&T results (i.e., knowledge, technology). The organization or individual that has requested a product and will receive the product to be delivered. The customer may be an end user of the product, the acquiring agent for the end user, or the requestor of the work products from a technical effort. Typically, a customer is a space flight project or the aeronautics community. Customers may also be other NASA-focused R&T projects where further development occurs to meet a specific mission requirement or industrial partners that NASA supplies with the results of the R&T to maintain a national aerospace capability.

Decision Authority. The individual authorized by the Agency to make important decisions on programs and projects under their authority.

Decision Memorandum. Documentation that captures the results of a significant decision such as from a KDP review. The decision documentation should include the decision made, rationale, effective date, and any actions associated with the decision (including responsible parties and due dates).

Deviation. A documented authorization releasing a program or project from meeting a requirement before the requirement is put under configuration control at the level the requirement will be implemented.

Directorate Program Management Council. The senior management group, chaired by an MDAA or designee, responsible for evaluating programs and projects executed within that Mission Directorate and overseeing implementation according to Agency commitments, priorities, and policies. For some programs, the MDAA may carry forward the DPMC findings and recommendations to the APMC.

Earned Value Management. A project management approach for measuring and assessing project performance through the integration of technical scope with schedule and cost objectives during the execution of the project. EVM provides quantification of technical progress with objective performance measurement techniques, enabling management to gain insight into project status and project completion costs and schedules. Two essential characteristics of successful EVM are EVM system data integrity and carefully targeted monthly EVM data analyses (i.e., identification of risky WBS elements).

Evaluation. The continual, self, and independent (i.e., outside the advocacy chain of the program/project) assessment of the performance of a program or project and incorporation of the evaluation findings to ensure adequacy of planning and execution according to plan. Flight Unit. The flight unit is the actual end item that is intended for deployment and operations. It is subjected to formal functional and acceptance testing.

Form. The physical characteristics of the product such as dimensions, weight, size, and visual parameters.

Formulation. The identification of how the program or project supports the Agency's strategic needs, goals, and objectives; the assessment of feasibility, technology, and concepts; risk assessment, team-building, development of concepts of operation, and acquisition strategies; establishment of high-level requirements and success criteria; the preparation of plans, budgets, and schedules essential to the success of a program or project; and the establishment of control systems to ensure performance to plan and alignment with current Agency strategies.

Formulation Authorization Document. The document issued by the MDAA to authorize the formulation of a program whose goals will fulfill part of the Agency's Strategic Plan and Mission Directorate strategies and establish the expectations and constraints for activity in the Formulation Phase. In addition, a FAD or equivalent is used to authorize the formulation of a project. (See appendices C and F.)

Function. The action or actions that a part is designed to perform.

Gap Analysis. An assessment of related technology development activities in other NASA programs, other Government agencies, and the commercial sector to evaluate the state of existing technology efforts and areas where additional work might be worthwhile to eliminate unnecessary duplication of effort.

Gate Products. Appropriate supporting materials submitted to the DA at a KDP. These materials may include: the governing PMC review recommendation; the Independent Assessment (IA) report; the program manager's recommendation, project manager's recommendation; Cost Estimation reports; the CMC's recommendation; and any agreement(s) ready for signature (i.e., FAD, Program or Project Plan, PCA, Selection Document, or updates).

Governing Program Management Council. The senior management group responsible for providing management oversight of specific programs and projects. Each council has the responsibility of periodically evaluating the cost, schedule, risk, and performance of programs or projects under its purview. The evaluation focuses on whether the program or project is meeting its commitments to the Agency and is following appropriate management processes. The governing PMC is either the APMC or the DPMC.

Implementation. The execution of approved plans for the development and operation of the program/project and the use of control systems to ensure performance to approved plans and continued alignment with the Agency's strategic goals.

Independent Assessment. IAs are conducted periodically as part of the program and project life cycle to ensure the relevance, quality, and performance of the program or project. Assessments include reviews, evaluations, audits, analysis oversight, and investigations and are independent to the extent the involved personnel apply their expertise impartially and without any conflict of interest or inappropriate interference or influence, particularly from the organization(s) being assessed.

Information Technology. IT, as defined in U.S. Federal Code 40 U.S.C. 11101, is any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment that is used in the automatic acquisition, storage, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, switching, interchange, transmission, or reception of data or information by an executive agency. It also includes computers, ancillary equipment (including imaging peripherals, input, output, and storage devices necessary for security and surveillance), peripheral equipment designed to be controlled by the central processing unit of a computer, software, firmware and similar procedures, services (including support services), and related resources. This includes: It does not include any equipment acquired by a Federal contractor incidental to a Federal contract.

Infrastructure Requirements. The facilities real property (buildings and/or other structures) and environmental, aircraft, personal property, equipment, and IT resources that are needed to support programs and projects.

Institutional Authority. Institutional Authority encompasses all those organizations and authorities not in the Programmatic Authority. This includes engineering, safety and mission assurance, and health and medical organizations; mission support organizations; and Center Directors.

Institutional Requirements. Requirements that focus on how NASA does business that are independent of the Particular program or project. There are five types: engineering, program/project management, safety and mission assurance, health and medical, and mission support requirements.

Investment. A resource and financial commitment by the Agency, Mission Directorate, or Center.

Key Decision Point. A decisional review that serves as a gate through which programs and projects need to pass to continue through their life cycle. KDPs entail a determination by the DA on the readiness of the program or project to progress through its life cycle. KDPs enable a disciplined approach to assessing program and project performance.

Key Performance Parameter. Measurable engineering parameters that would be readily understood and used by engineers concerned with the ultimate application of the results from the Technology Development project. For each KPP, both a goal and a threshold will be specified. The goal is a performance level that the Technology Development project is striving for, and the threshold is the minimum performance level that users agree is acceptable for the end item deliverable. Typically, the threshold KPP values are set beyond the current state of the art to warrant investment in the Technology Development project. KPPs include information that enables an assessment of the advancement of the maturity of the technology throughout the development process. The definition of a KPP includes defining the appropriate environment and the component, subsystem, or system within which the KPP measurements are to be made.

Laboratory Environment. An environment that does not address in any manner the environment to be encountered by the system, subsystem, or component (hardware or software) during its intended operation tests in a laboratory environment are solely for demonstrating the underlying principles of technical performance (functions) without respect to the impact of environment.

Life-Cycle Cost. The total of the direct, indirect, recurring, nonrecurring, and other related expenses both incurred and estimated to be incurred in the design, development, verification, production, deployment, prime mission operation, maintenance, support, and disposal of a project, including closeout. The LCC of a project or system can also be defined as the total cost of ownership over the project or system's life cycle from Formulation through Implementation. It includes all design, development, deployment, operation and maintenance, and disposal costs.

Non-Applicable Requirement. Any requirement not relevant; not capable of being applied.

Operational Environment. The environment in which the final product will be operated. In the case of space flight hardware/software, it is space. In the case of ground-based or airborne systems that are not directed toward space flight, it will be the environments defined by the scope of operations. For software, the environment will be defined by the operational platform.

Periodic Project Review. An internal review of a project's cost, schedule, and technical performance. Any issues or concerns are discussed, risks reviewed, recommendations made, and/or actions assigned. PPRs may take the form of informal discussions or more formal life-cycle reviews. For small projects, a gathering of the project team and key stakeholders may suffice to discuss the project's progress and to refine forward planning. Larger projects may need a more formal review with a wider audience and a more formal process for gathering comments, dispositioning them, and refining plans.

Principal Investigator. A person who conceives an investigation and is responsible for carrying it out and reporting its results. In some cases, Principal Investigators (PIs) from industry and academia act as project managers for smaller development efforts with NASA personnel providing oversight. Not all projects will have a designated PI.

Program. A strategic investment by Mission Directorates or mission support offices that has a defined architecture and/or technical approach, requirements, funding level, and a management structure that initiates and directs one or more projects. A program implements a strategic direction that the Agency has identified as needed to accomplish Agency goals and objectives.

Program Assessment Review. A key decision point for a program. During PARs, the technical progress, cost/schedule, top risks and threats and continued suitability of a program end-state are determined. PARs may take the form of informal discussions or more formal reviews. For small programs, a gathering of key stakeholders may suffice to discuss the program's progress and to refine forward planning. Larger programs may need a more formal review with a wider audience and a more formal process for gathering comments, dispositioning them, and refining plans. A decision to redirect, continue, or terminate a program is made at a PAR.

Program Commitment Agreement. The contract between the AA and the responsible MDAA that authorizes transition from Formulation to Implementation of a program.

Program Manager. A generic term for the person who is formally assigned to be in charge of the program. A program manager could be designated as a program lead, program director, or some other term, as defined in the program's governing document. A program manager is responsible for the formulation and implementation of the R&T program, per the governing document with the sponsoring MDAA.

Program Plan. The document that establishes the program's baseline for implementation, signed by the MDAA or Center Director(s) and program manager.

Program Status Review. An internal review of a program's cost, schedule, and technical performance. For small programs, a gathering of the program team and key stakeholders may suffice to discuss the program's progress and to refine forward planning. Larger programs may need a more formal review with a wider audience and a more formal process for gathering comments, dispositioning them, and refining plans.

Program (Project) Team. All participants in program (project) Formulation and Implementation. This includes all direct reports and others that support meeting program (project) responsibilities.

Programmatic Authority. Programmatic Authority includes the Mission Directorates and their respective program and project managers. Individuals in these organizations are the official voices for their respective areas. Programmatic Authority sets, oversees, and ensures conformance to applicable programmatic requirements.

Programmatic Requirements. Requirements set by the Mission Directorate, program, project, and PI, if applicable. These include strategic scientific and exploration requirements, system performance requirements, safety requirements, and schedule, cost, and similar nontechnical constraints.

Project. A specific investment identified in a Program Plan having defined requirements, a life-cycle cost, a beginning, and an end. A project also has a management structure and may have interfaces to other projects, agencies, and international partners. A project yields new or revised products that directly address NASA's strategic goals.

Project Manager. A generic term that represents the position in charge of the project. A project manager could be designated as a project lead, project principal investigator, project scientist, research director, project executive, or some other term, as defined in the project's governing document. A project manager is responsible for the formulation and implementation of the R&T project, per the governing document in coordination with the program manager.

Project Plan. The document that establishes the project's baseline for Implementation, signed by the responsible program manager, Center Director, project manager, and the MDAA. if required.

Protoflight Unit. Protoflight units are developed for cases when a qualification unit is not developed (due to cost or schedule constraints). The protoflight unit is intended for flight or deployment and operations. A limited set of qualification and tests are performed on the prototype to preserve its ability to function and life expectancy. Full acceptance testing is performed.

Qualification Unit. Hardware that is generated with the same components and processes intended for the actual flight units. These units are tested to the levels that demonstrate the desired qualification level margins of key parameters such as thermal extremes, vibration, and radiation levels. Sometimes this means testing the unit to failure. This unit is not used operationally, but if still functioning, may be kept as a ground spare or test unit for mission anomalies.

R&T Program. An Agency program that comprises strictly R&T projects. R&T Project. An Agency project managed as either a Technology Development project or a Research project.

Relevant Environment. Not all systems, subsystems, and/or components need to be operated in the operational environment to satisfactorily address performance margin requirements. Consequently, the relevant environment is the specific subset of the operational environment that is required to demonstrate critical "at risk" aspects of the final product performance in an operational environment. It is an environment that focuses specifically on "stressing" the technology advance in question.

Research and Technology. Basic research, applied research, and technology development.

Risk. In the context of mission execution, risk is the potential for performance shortfalls, which may be realized in the future, with respect to achieving explicitly established and stated performance requirements. The performance shortfalls may be related to any one or more of the following mission execution domains: (1) safety, (2) technical, (3) cost, and (4) schedule. (See NPR 8000.4.)

Risk Assessment. An evaluation of a risk item that determines: (1) what can go wrong, (2) how likely is it to occur, (3) what the consequences are, (4) what the uncertainties are that are associated with the likelihood and consequences, and (5) what the mitigation plans are.

Risk Management. Risk management includes risk-informed decision making (RIDM) and continuous risk management (CRM) in an integrated framework. RIDM informs systems engineering decisions through better use of risk and uncertainty information in selecting alternatives and establishing baseline requirements. CRM manages risks over the course of the Formulation and Implementation Phase of the life cycle to ensure that safety, technical, cost, and schedule requirements are met. This is done to foster proactive risk management, to better inform decision making through better use of risk information, and then to more effectively manage Implementation risks by focusing the CRM process on the baseline performance requirements emerging from the RIDM process. (See NPR 8000.4.) These processes are applied at a level of rigor commensurate with the complexity, cost, and criticality of the program.

Risk-Informed Decision Making. A risk-informed decision-making process uses a diverse set of performance measures (some of which are model-based risk metrics), along with other considerations within a deliberative process to inform decision making.

Safety. Freedom from those conditions that can cause death, injury, occupational illness, damage to or loss of equipment or property, or damage to the environment.

Security. Protection of people, property, and information assets owned by NASA that covers physical assets, personnel, IT, communications, and operations.

Stakeholder. Any party that has an interest in the outcome or deliverable of a program or project. Stakeholders include customers, beneficiaries, and organizations that will work on or provide support to the program or project.

System. The combination of elements that function together to produce the capability required to meet a need. The elements include all hardware, software, equipment, facilities, personnel, processes, and procedures needed for this purpose.

Systems Engineering. Per NPR 7123.1, NASA Systems Engineering is a logical systems approach performed by multidisciplinary teams to engineer and integrate NASA's systems to ensure NASA products meet the customer's needs. Implementation of this systems approach will enhance NASA's core engineering capabilities while improving safety, mission success, and affordability. This systems approach is applied to all elements of a system (i.e., hardware, software, and human) and all hierarchical levels of a system over the complete program/project life cycle.

Tailoring. The process used to adjust or seek relief from a prescribed requirement to accommodate the needs of a specific task or activity (e.g., program or project). The tailoring process results in the generation of deviations and waivers depending on the timing of the request.

Technical Authority. Part of NASA's system of checks and balances that provides independent oversight of programs and projects in support of safety and mission success through the selection of individuals at delegated levels of authority. These individuals are the Technical Authorities. Technical Authority delegations are formal and traceable to the Administrator. Individuals with Technical Authority are funded independently of a program or project.

Technology Readiness Level. Provides a scale against which to measure the maturity of a technology. TRLs range from 1, Basic Technology Research, to 9, Systems Test, Launch, and Operations. Typically, a TRL of 6 (i.e., technology demonstrated in a relevant environment) is required for a technology to be integrated into a flight system. For detailed guidance on technology assessment refer to the Technology Readiness Assessment Best Practices Guide, SP-20205003605, which can be found at https://ntrs.nasa.gov/api/citations/20205003605/downloads/%20SP-20205003605%20TRA%20BP%20Guide%20FINAL.pdf.

Termination Review. A review initiated by the DA the purpose of securing a recommendation as to whether to continue or terminate a program or project. Failing to stay within the parameters or levels specified in controlling documents will result in consideration of a termination review.

Terms of Reference. A document specifying the nature, scope, schedule, and ground rules for an independent review or independent assessment.

Technology Development Project. A specific R&T project identified in an Agency Program Plan that has defined technical requirements, a life-cycle cost that incorporates a specific beginning and ending, and a management structure. A Technology Development project yields new or revised technology that addresses NASA's strategic needs.

Unallocated Future Expenses. The portion of estimated cost required to meet specified confidence level that has not been allocated to the specific project WBS sub-elements because the probabilistic estimate includes risks and uncertainties.

Waiver. A documented authorization releasing a program or project from meeting a requirement after the requirement is put under configuration control at the level the requirement will be implemented.

Work Breakdown Structure. A product-oriented hierarchical division of the hardware, software, services, and data required to produce the program's or project's end product(s), structured according to the way the work will be performed, and reflecting the way in which program/project costs, schedule, technical, and risk data are to be accumulated, summarized, and reported.

| TOC | ChangeLog | Preface | Chapter1 | Chapter2 | Chapter3 | Chapter4 | Chapter5 | AppendixA | AppendixB | AppendixC | AppendixD | AppendixE | AppendixF | AppendixG | AppendixH | AppendixI | AppendixJ | AppendixK | AppendixL | AppendixM | ALL |
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