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NPR 8000.4B
Effective Date: December 06, 2017
Expiration Date: December 06, 2022
Printable Format (PDF)

Subject: Agency Risk Management Procedural Requirements

Responsible Office: Office of Safety and Mission Assurance

| TOC | Preface | Chapter1 | Chapter2 | Chapter3 | AppendixA | AppendixB | AppendixC | AppedixD | ALL |

Appendix A. Definitions

Acquirer: An Acquirer is a NASA organization that tasks another organization (either within NASA or external to NASA) to produce a system or deliver a service.

Aggregate Risk: The cumulative risk associated with a given goal, objective, or performance measure, accounting for all significant risk contributors. For example, the total probability of loss of mission is an aggregate risk quantified as the probability of the union of all scenarios leading to loss of mission.

Candidate Risk: A potential risk that has been identified and is pending adjudication by the affected programmatic or institutional authority.

Consequence: The key, possible negative outcome(s) of the current key circumstances, situations, etc., causing concern, doubt, anxiety, or uncertainty.

Continuous Risk Management (CRM): As discussed in paragraph 1.2.3, a systematic and iterative process that efficiently identifies, analyzes, plans, tracks, controls, and communicates and documents risks associated with implementation of designs, plans, and processes.

Cross-cutting Risk: A risk that is generally applicable to multiple mission execution efforts, with attributes and impacts found in multiple levels of the organization or in multiple organizations within the same level.

Cybersecurity Risk: Threats to and vulnerabilities of information or information systems and any related consequences caused by or resulting from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, degradation, disruption, modification, or destruction of information or information systems, including such related consequences caused by an act of terrorism. (From National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014.)

Deliberation: In the context of this NPR, the formal or informal process for communication and collective consideration, by stakeholders designated in the Risk Management Plan, of all pertinent information, especially risk information, in order to support the decision maker.

Dispositions (Risk)

(a) Accept: The formal process of justifying and documenting a decision not to mitigate a given risk. (See also Risk Acceptability Criterion).

Note: A decision to "accept" a risk is a decision to proceed without further mitigation of that risk (i.e., despite exposure to that risk).

(b) Close: The determination that a risk no longer exists (e.g., the underlying condition no longer exists), has become a problem and is now tracked as such, because the associated scenario likelihoods are low (e.g., the likelihood has been reduced below a defined threshold), or the associated consequences are low (e.g., the consequence has been reduced below a defined threshold).

Note: Closing a risk due to low likelihood is still a risk acceptance decision. From a risk acceptance perspective, it is still necessary to account for the cumulative effects of risks closed due to low likelihood (see section l.).

(c) Elevate: The process of transferring the decision for the management of an identified source of risk to the risk management structure at a higher organizational level.

Note: Some organizational units within NASA use the term "escalate" to mean "elevate."

(d) Mitigate: The modification of a process, system, or activity in order to reduce a risk by reducing its probability, consequence severity, or uncertainty, or by shifting its timeframe.

Note: After mitigation, there will still be a need to accept any remaining risk and account for its contribution to the aggregate risk.

(e) Research: The investigation of a risk in order to acquire sufficient information to support another disposition, i.e., close, watch, mitigate, accept, or elevate.

(f) Watch: The monitoring of a risk for early warning of a significant change in its probability, consequences, uncertainty, or timeframe.

Graded Approach: A "graded approach" applies risk management processes at a level of detail and rigor that adds value without unnecessary expenditure of unit resources. The resources and depth of analysis are commensurate with the stakes and the complexity of the decision situations being addressed.

Note: For example, the level of rigor needed in risk analysis to demonstrate satisfaction of safety-related performance requirements depends on specific characteristics of the situation: how stringent the requirements are, how complex and diverse the hazards are, and how large the uncertainties are compared to operating margin, among other things. Both RIDM and CRM are formulated to allow for this.

Institutional Risks: Risks to infrastructure, information technology, resources, personnel, assets, processes, operations, occupational safety and health, environmental management, security, or programmatic constraints that affect capabilities and resources necessary for mission success, including institutional flexibility to respond to changing mission needs and compliance with internal (e.g., NASA) and external requirements (e.g., Environmental Protection Agency or Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations).

Knowledge Management: Knowledge management is getting the right information to the right people at the right time and helping people create knowledge and share and act upon information in ways that will measurably improve the performance of NASA and its partners. Likelihood: Probability of occurrence.

Organizational Unit: An organization, such as a program, project, Center, Mission Directorate, or Mission Support Office that is responsible for carrying out a particular activity.

Performance Measure: A metric used to measure the extent to which a system, process, or activity fulfills its intended objectives.

Note: Performance measures should in general relate to observable quantities. For example, engine performance parameters, cost metrics, and schedule are observable quantities. Although safety performance measures can be observed in principle, many of them have to be modeled. Partly because of this, in ranking decision alternatives, one may use a risk metric (e.g., probability of loss of crew) as a surrogate for a performance measure.

Performance Requirement: The value of a performance measure to be achieved by an organizational unit's work that has been agreed upon to satisfy the needs of the next higher organizational level.

Provider: A Provider is a NASA or contractor organization that is tasked by an accountable organization (i.e., the Acquirer) to produce a product or service.

Risk: Risk is the potential for shortfalls with respect to achieving explicitly established and stated objectives. As applied to programs and projects, these objectives are translated into performance requirements, which may be related to mission execution domains (safety, mission success, cost, and schedule) or institutional support for mission execution. Risk is operationally characterized as a set of triplets:

The scenario(s) leading to degraded performance with respect to one or more performance measures (e.g., scenarios leading to injury, fatality, destruction of key assets; scenarios leading to exceedance of mass limits; scenarios leading to cost overruns; scenarios leading to schedule slippage).

The likelihood(s) (qualitative or quantitative) of those scenarios.

The consequence(s) (qualitative or quantitative severity of the performance degradation) that would result if those scenarios were to occur.

Uncertainties are included in the evaluation of likelihoods and identification of scenarios.

Note: A risk is an uncertain future event that could threaten the achievement of performance objectives or requirements. A "problem," on the other hand, describes an issue that exists now, or an event that has occurred with 100 percent certainty, and is threatening the achievement of the objective or requirement.

Risk Acceptability Criterion: A rule for determining whether a given organizational unit has the authority to decide to accept a risk.

Note: This does not mean that all risks satisfying the criterion are accepted, or that a combination of such individual risks is automatically acceptable in the aggregate, but rather that, subject to aggregate risk considerations, the given unit has the authority to decide to accept individual risks satisfying the criterion.

Risk-Informed Decision Making (RIDM): 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.

Note: A decision-making process relying primarily on a narrow set of model-based risk metrics would be considered "risk-based."

Risk Management: Risk management includes RIDM and CRM in an integrated framework. This is done in order to foster proactive risk management, to inform better decision making through better use of risk information, and then to manage more effectively implementation risks by focusing the CRM process on the baseline performance requirements informed by the RIDM process.

Risk Review Boards: Formally established groups of people assigned specifically to review risk information. Their output is twofold: (1) to improve the management of risk in the area being reviewed and (2) to serve as an input to decision-making bodies in need of risk information.

Safety: In a risk-informed context, safety is an overall condition that provides sufficient assurance that mishaps will not result from the mission execution or program implementation, or, if they occur, their consequences will be mitigated. This assurance is established by means of the satisfaction of a combination of deterministic criteria and risk-informed criteria.

Note: This NPR uses the term "safety" broadly to include human safety (public and workforce), environmental safety, and asset safety.

Scenario: A sequence of events, such as an account or synopsis of a projected course of action or events.

Threshold: A level for a performance measure or a risk metric whose exceedance "triggers" management processes to rectify performance shortfalls.

Uncertainty: An imperfect state of knowledge or a variability resulting from a variety of factors including, but not limited to, lack of knowledge, applicability of information, physical variation, randomness or stochastic behavior, indeterminacy, judgment, and approximation.

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