ICF Quality Assurance Plan (QAP)
Approach for Quality Assurance including Employment of Quality Assurance Processes (Metrics Measurement, Tracking, and Corrective Actions)
Successful completion and delivery of a Task Order requires that client-specified high-quality products and services be consistently delivered in a cost-efficient, streamlined manner. Our proposed integrated quality assurance (QA) approach assigns a Quality Assurance Manager with specific duties and responsibilities assigned. Our QA Manager provides performance metrics and analyses to the Officer in Charge, the PD, and the Task Order PMs. He reports to the program Officer-in-Charge, thus ensuring program independence. ICF's commitment to QA ensures that introducing innovation and efficiency in program management does not lead to trade-offs in quality.
Following are actions that make up our QA measures:
Identify and agree on unique Task Order quality performance requirements: After receiving a Task Order—and beyond the essential identification and clarification performance requirements—the ICF PM will ensure that any new/unique performance requirements or associated quality standards are identified, and then confirmed and agreed to with the client or the designated QA evaluator, as appropriate.
Analyze and verify that actual costs incurred at each milestone are consistent with the bid: Weekly, ICF will review and verify labor charges and expense reports; ensure timely submittal of complete and accurate expenditure information; compare actual data with Task Order budget; and consider special circumstances, as appropriate.
Review and analyze client performance assessment: The ICF PD and QA Manager will review the client's performance evaluation and comments and conduct assessments with the Task Order Manager on changes required in the Task Order execution.
Corrective action management: ICF will develop and implement corrective action measures and plans, as appropriate, to address individual improvement needs based on performance feedback, and conduct assessment of any individual member of ICF's program support team. Additional details are provided in the Corrective Measures portion in Paragraph 1.2.3.
In the following paragraphs we provide examples of specific QA methods and the standard, the acceptance criteria, and consequences of not meeting the criteria. This approach provides performance metrics of how ICF is doing as the Task Order is completed.
In addition to general QA measures, the solicitation requires each Task Order response to provide specific QA measures for evaluating Task Order-specific performance and delivery. In our examples of sample measures, many of these performance standards are being used in work being performed under other existing contracts where we have a proven track record meeting or exceeding expectations.
Compliance with Proposed Technical Development Process
In each Task Order response, ICF will describe a technical approach to meeting the Task Order requirements. ICF will follow that process while meeting the requirements provided in the Task Order. Quality can be assessed by the government by reviewing the work plans and products produced during execution of the Task Order tasks.
Evaluation Criteria: The process should be complied with 100 percent of the time; deviations must be fully documented and approved.
Feedback Evaluation and Handling
Evaluating feedback provided after each delivery is completed is a critical component for evaluating technical effectiveness. Documenting the feedback for each deliverable provides a valuable tool for identifying areas where performance should be improved. As part of that review, negative comments are further evaluated to identify trends and how ICF deals with the issues raised.
Evaluation Criteria: Over 95 percent of submitted deliverables should have either no discrepancies noted or positive feedback.
Deliverable Suspenses and Delivery
Deliverable compliance consists of both timeliness and quality. The quality portion is discussed above. The timeliness component is important for the government to track the contract execution. All deliverables should be evaluated using both criteria.
- Were the deliverable products provided on time?
- Is the information contained in the documents accurate?
- Are the documents properly formatted and typographically correct?
- Were the documents delivered in the correct format, the proper number of copies, and to the proper personnel?
Evaluation Criteria: In each case, the goal should be 100 percent compliance.
ICF will use these proven QA measures to ensure that we meet and exceed all QA goals established by the client.
Approach for Risk Management (Identification, Risk Qualification, Risk Response, Risk Monitoring, and Control)
All Task Orders have a certain amount of risk associated with their execution. The key is managing and being prepared to mitigate that risk. Risks are a key part of the project plan and should be reviewed frequently for program and Task Order impact. Our approach and methodology for risk management includes planning, identification, assessment, response mitigation, and risk monitoring and reporting. ICF has extensive experience using best industry practices to provide risk management support to government agencies:
- Risk Management/Planning. Our risk planning starts with documenting the risk management process that the program is using or desires to use. Our PD will serve as the Risk Manager and act as the risk process owner. The Risk Manager will maintain the risk management database and supporting documentation for the program.
- Risk Identification. All projects have a certain amount of risk associated with them. The risk management process starts by identifying the categories of risk and the specific risks associated with a Task Order. All of our Task Order leads and Consortium Members are responsible for identifying potential risks in their areas of responsibility. The Risk Manager is responsible for identifying and documenting all identified program risks and will work with each manager and Consortium Member to ensure a comprehensive assessment of potential risks.
- Risk Assessment (Qualification). Before a risk is assigned to an owner, the risk must be assessed or qualified using qualitative or quantitative methods. After this is accomplished, the risk cause and effect is identified and reviewed. The risk is then accepted or rejected and the accepted risks will be assigned a risk owner, typically the manager whose responsibilities are most affected by the risk. Programmatic risks will be characterized for their potential effect on cost, schedule, resources, quality, and performance. Even if a risk is rejected, it will still reside in the database because risk is a dynamic aspect of a project.
- Risk Mitigation (Response Planning). Our Task Order leads and Consortium Members, after identifying the risks, are responsible for mitigation planning, which includes identifying, evaluating, selecting, and implementing risk mitigation options to minimize the potential unfavorable effect of the risk, given cost and benefit constraints. They will work with the Risk Manager to develop, document, and implement, as prescribed, a Risk Mitigation Plan addressing what should be done, when it should be done and completed, who is responsible, and an associated cost and schedule. The response plan is updated as needed, and the Risk Manager keeps track of progress.
- Risk Monitoring and Reporting. Risk monitoring is the responsibility of each risk owner, with oversight and review provided by the Risk Manager and the task lead. ICF will use a standard format to provide each project manager with a summary of risks and mitigation actions.
Regardless of how carefully a project execution is planned, occasional delivery issues arise. ICF's philosophy is to train employees and provide team access to information needed to anticipate issues before they become problems. All ICF groups have Human Resources Leaders responsible for mentoring staff development and helping resolve technical and performance-related issues.
To ensure a properly trained staff, we have an internal talent development program that currently includes 51 courses (with 10 more under development) covering a wide range of skills needed to perform consulting assignments. All staff managing projects take our course on our financial management systems. Our staff is trained to manage consulting assignments—managers are strongly encouraged to take our Millennium Management Skills Training, a series of 15 sessions developed by ICF that addresses skills critical to knowledge workers (e.g., managing collaborative relationships, performance management skills). Many of these management courses are accredited by the PMI and can be applied to the PMI Program Management Professional (PMP) certificate.
Recommendations to attend selected sessions are often included in ICF's personnel evaluations where appropriate. We also host an internal Consulting Conundrums page on our intranet, where staff post questions or describe difficult situations, and other staff post suggestions and share lessons learned.
Despite our extensive internal training and mentoring—and the systems and procedures for controlling project performance (discussed in the following section)—problems can still arise, usually as a result of a change in the direction of a project or the need to perform rapid-response work unanticipated when the Project Management Plan was submitted. Under these circumstances, ICF identifies, communicates, and resolves potential problems promptly. Our managers use our long-standing practice of bringing potential problems promptly to the attention of our senior managers and our clients.
It is the primary responsibility of the Task Order Manager to monitor the work assignment to ensure that we meet the schedule and requirements. The manager develops schedules with detailed internal deadlines for ICF project staff to ensure that milestones are achieved while providing sufficient time for internal quality control activities. Our managers are generally in daily contact with their staff and provide technical expertise, guidance, direction, and problem resolution as necessary.
Our quality management processes include check-ins from the Task Order Managers to the PD, monthly corporate reports that include technical schedule and cost performance data, and monthly internal program reviews (IPRs) with representatives from the Contracts, Accounting, and HR departments to review progress, discuss issues, and identify potential needs and risks. Because our continuing success depends on repeat business, ICF recognizes the importance of implementing effective QA procedures in all of our work. Our approach is successful, as evidenced by the fact that 80 percent of ICF's business comes from repeat customers.
Problems that cannot be resolved by the manager are brought to the attention of the ICF PD, who will help craft a resolution to the client's satisfaction.
ICF will ensure that all electronic and information technology (EIT) products and services produced through this Task Order meet the applicable accessibility standards of 36 CFR 1194. Before the release or implementation of any new software or Web sites, an in-depth review of the requirements listed in 36 CFR 1194 will be accomplished, and software and Web sites evaluated to ensure compliance. The 36 CFR 1194 standards implement Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.