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Building a Cost Analysis Improvement Group – Best Practices and Lessons Learned

Management Track



The NRO Cost Analysis Improvement Group (CAIG) has been in existence in various forms for over 20 years. It has migrated from an organization that provides independent cost estimates (ICE) for specific product lines to one that provides end to end program acquisition support.

As availability of government funding diminishes, it is increasingly important for organizations to develop a capability to accurately estimate and flawlessly execute programs. More visibility is being placed on large government programs; as a result, the legal and regulatory requirements for independent cost analyses have been expanded with a resulting increase in the number of agencies charged with performing these analyses. It is critical that these agencies not only develop the capabilities to develop traceable, verifiable, defensible cost estimates but also look for ways to better support program execution.

This paper focuses on the best practices implemented by the NRO CAIG over the last 20 years as well as areas we are currently trying to improve. Our ability to provide the exceptional level of program support required at the NRO and to be responsive to oversight organizations relies on our extensive collection of data, models, and tools that have continuously improved over time. We have over 200 completed NRO, NASA, and DoD space-related programs in our cost database, and we manage the NROs central repository for earned value data on active programs. Access to this vast amount of data provides opportunities for continuous methods and tool development and often presents us with the challenge of, are we doing “enough” with the resources at our disposal to help programs succeed. This paper describes some of the key processes, methods, and tools that may be unique to the NRO CAIG, as well as the lessons learned in developing and applying them in all phases of our end-to-end program support model.


Keith Robertson
Mr. Keith Robertson was appointed by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to be the Director of the NRO Cost Analysis Improvement Group (CAIG) in 2003. In this capacity, he is responsible for conducting independent life cycle cost estimates and overseeing implementation of Earned Value management for all major NRO programs. He also manages the production of cost estimates supporting cost/effectiveness analysis, affordability assessments, long range planning, program budget builds, major acquisition program source selections, and program estimates at completion. Additionally, he leads the development of the NRO’s principal program cost and technical database, the development and enhancement of NRO cost analysis methods, and chairs the NRO’s government/industry cost integrated process team. In 2005 he was promoted into the Senior Intelligence Service.
Mr. Robertson started his professional career as a cost analyst and industrial engineer in the Cost Analysis Division, Naval Air Systems Command, Washington, D.C. While at NAVAIR, he was responsible for developing acquisition cost estimates for a variety of multi-billion dollar next generation air warfare systems. His work included extensive efforts in developing cost estimates and unique cost methodologies for the nations Joint Strike Fighter program. In 1998 he joined the Central Intelligence Agency and was assigned to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). During his 11 years at the NRO, he has worked in the NRO CAIG where he develops Independent Cost Estimates for National Security Space Intelligence programs. He was specifically recruited to be the team lead for all Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) programs and subsequently was taking on dual responsibilities as the team lead for all Advanced Science and Technology (AS&T) programs.
Mr. Keith H. Robertson graduated from the Pennsylvania State University in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. He also holds a Masters degree from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Engineering Administration. He is married to the former Beth Ann Gray of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They have three children: Cassandra, Jack, and Sara.

Linda A. Williams, CCEA, PMP
Ms. Williams has over thirty years of experience with space system cost estimating. She has been the Wyle Program Manager for the NRO CAIG SETA support contract for the last three years. Through her experience at Wyle, Lockheed Martin, Futron, Harris and L-3 Communications she has developed numerous space system cost models, collected and normalized data, contributed to USCM data collection activities, conducted Price to Win analyses, participated in satellite industry demand based forecasts, and developed numerous economic and strategic planning analyses. She has co-authored several papers focused on Commercial Satellite Market and Price Analyses. She has an MBA from Rider University and a BA in Economics from Rutgers University. She is a current member of SCEA, ISPA and PMI.

Erik Burgess
Burgess Consulting
Mr. Erik Burgess has provided cost estimating and program support to the National Reconnaissance Office since 1995. He is the president of Burgess Consulting, Inc., and has also served with The Aerospace Corporation, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and MCR, LLC. Mr. Burgess earned his M.S. and B.S. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jay Jordan
Jay H. Jordan, a member of the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service, serves as the Deputy Director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Cost Analysis Improvement Group (CAIG). With the Director, he is responsible for overseeing the development of independent life cycle cost estimates and the implementation of Earned Value Analysis techniques for all major NRO programs. Mr. Jordan also leads the development of the NRO’s cost and technical database and directs the enhancement of cost analytical methods, coordinating NRO efforts with other government and industry cost analytical organizations.
Prior to his current assignment, Mr. Jordan served as the Technical Director for the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cost and Economics, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, Washington, D.C. He was responsible for the quality of all Air Force cost and economic analyses reviewed by Headquarters Air Staff to support major resource allocation decisions.
Mr. Jordan began his career as a analyst in the Cost Analysis Division, Naval Air Systems Command, Washington, D.C., where he supported the development of cost estimates for experimental and notional weapons systems.