|National Science Foundation: Cost and Schedule Performance of Large Facilities Construction Projects and Opportunities to Improve Project Management|
The National Science Foundation (NSF) took some steps to help ensure that its own oversight staff for large facilities projects and the agency's award recipients—such as universities or companies that design, construct, and operate the projects on a day-to-day basis—have project management expertise, but it had not taken certain additional steps. For example, as called for by leading practices, in 2018 NSF identified competencies needed by its oversight staff to ensure their project management expertise. In contrast, the agency had not yet assessed potential gaps in how well its staff met the competencies or established a time frame for doing so. Having such an assessment would help NSF target workforce strategies to fill any gaps identified. To assess the expertise of recipients, NSF relies on the judgment of external panels of experts it periodically convenes to review large facilities projects during design and construction. However, NSF had not established criteria for project management expertise needed by recipients, potentially increasing the risk of awarding funds to recipients that may not be well-qualified to manage large construction projects.