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The Importance of Software Cost Estimating Standards among a Diverse Community

Software/Hardware Track



Many cost analysis organizations within elements of the United States Intelligence Community (IC) have developed cost estimation and data collection methods that are based on years of Agency-specific historical programmatic data. These methods have been established over time, effectively creating independent approaches across the Community. While these techniques are valuable, the cost estimation and reconciliation process highlights differences in estimation methods that make analysis across the IC difficult. For example, Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) Number 109 “establishes policy on preparing independent cost estimates (ICE) and agency cost positions (ACP) in support of the development, determination, and effective execution of the National Intelligence Program (NIP) budget” [1]. Specifically, the Directive requires the IC oversight cost analysis organization to perform ICEs of major acquisitions as part of the budgetary process. To effectively perform estimates on programs from external entities, the oversight organization, as well as the Community at large, must focus on establishing standards, best practices, and lessons learned among the members of the IC. This effort will not only enhance the ICE process at the oversight level, but will improve methods at the individual Agencies and provide value to the cost community as a whole.

This paper will focus on an on-going IC study to further develop sound and robust software cost estimating methodologies and data collection policies in an effort to create standards across the Community. The overarching goals of the software standards study are as follows:

1. Institute IC software data standards to facilitate IC wide data collection, analyses, and tools;
2. Increase understanding within the IC of software estimating practices, data, analyses, and policies;
3. Develop, validate, and expand software analyses, cost estimating relationships (CER), and tools.

This research will explore IC member requirements and estimating approaches, including strategies, organization/prioritization, success stories, and lessons learned. It will detail the research process to date and challenges that the participating Agencies have encountered. Preliminary conclusions and potential next steps will also be outlined for consideration. Through the continuation of this research, the participating IC components will establish standards that enable greater consistency and more accurate estimating comparisons.


Kyle Thomas
Scitor Corporation
Mr. Thomas is currently an analyst with Scitor Corporation, providing cost estimating support to the Intelligence Community. Prior to joining Scitor, he was an Operations Research Analyst at TASC, where he also provided advisory services to the Intelligence Community. In May of 2009, Mr. Thomas graduated with a B.S. in Energy Business and Finance, and a minor in Economics from The Pennsylvania State University.

Jenny Woolley
Scitor Corporation
Ms. Woolley graduated from the University of Virginia was a Masters of Science in Management and Information Technology in 2011 and from The College of William and Mary in 2006 with a B.A. in Economics and Psychology. After graduation from William and Mary, Ms. Woolley began working for Northrop Grumman-TASC as an operations researcher, performing cost analysis for the Intelligence Community. She led analysts creating life cycle cost estimates and Intelligence Capability Baseline Descriptions (ICBD) for the development and maintenance of multiple programs. Ms. Woolley also worked on a team conducting Independent Cost Proposal Evaluations throughout Northrop Grumman. In 2009, she joined Scitor Corporation, where she has supported multiple customers throughout the Intelligence Community and Department of Defense. Ms. Woolley currently develops program cost estimates for various agencies as part of the budgetary process.

Will Black
Scitor Corporation
Mr. Black currently works for Scitor, where he has supported multiple customers throughout the Intelligence Community. At present, Mr. Black supports the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), where he develops tools and cost estimates for various agencies in support of the budgetary process.