Benchmarking Reported Schedules

Using GAO’s Schedule Assessment Guide Best Practices


By Hilal Al Rashdi




Oman power and water sector is developing with a continuous increasing demand of electricity and water. Currently, the project companies are delayed in delivering these project on time. The author suggest that quality of project schedule plays a crucial role in project delivery which can be improved.  Using Multi Attribute Decision Making and GAO Schedule Assessment Guide, a scoring model was developed to quality check the reported schedules. The outcomes from the scoring model will be displayed on a scorecard using scores for each of ten best practices and four scheduling characteristics.  A set of recommendations were provided to the management regarding the use of the scoring model as monitoring tool , modifications to the contracts, and the use of scorecard to communicate the results to project companies.

Key Words: GAO Schedule Assessment Guide, Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), Multi- Attributes Decision Making (MADM), Project Management, Triple Constrains


Delivering the project with in the triple constrains (cost, quality & time) is what every management is looking for. It is generally understood that any changes in any of these constrains will at least affect the other ones. Therefore, monitoring and controlling a project can be difficult depending on the complexity of the project. The one document that can capture all the information is the “Schedule”. The durations and time sequence for all the activities are provided within the schedule on the basis to achieve the key milestones. Therefore, “the schedule not only a road map for project execution but also a tool to gauge the project progress and identify potential problems” [1]at early stages of the project.[2]

Being the client/buyer to independent water and power projects, it is important to deliver the project within the timeframe specified and within budget allocated to ensure reliable operation for more than 15 years. Currently, water and power are important and essential resources for day to day demands. However, the projects not only being delayed but also delivered with reliability and safety problems which directly affects the end-users. A root cause analysis was conducted by the team and the causes identified were, among other causes, lack of resources, lack of quality control and unrealistic project duration which consequently leads to poor scheduling and reporting. Therefore, a benchmark needs to be set in order to evaluate the current reported schedules by power generators or water producers.

The GAO’s schedule assessment guide provides best ten practices that helps managers to determine the health of the schedule.  This assessment was developed by the U.S. Government Accountability Office[3] to address project delivery issues which includes project time delays and over budget specifically for projects that are funded by the government. The GAO’s schedule assessment guide suggests that four characteristics should considered for high quality and reliable schedule which are:

–        Comprehensive: The schedule should include all the activities required to achieve the deliverables in work break down structure (WBS). It should also include the information about the required recourses as well as the durations for each activity.

–        Well structured: The activities should be logically sequenced, critical path should identified and reasonable total float should be included. Unusual or unreasonable information should justified.

–        Credible: The schedule should be horizontally traceable to reflect the order of activities to achieve specific outcomes. It should also be vertically traceable to reflect the activities required to achieve certain milestone.

–        Controlled: Using the actual progress from the site and logic the schedule should be updated. Then, the current reported schedule should be compared to the baseline schedule.

To achieve these four characteristics, the implementation of the GAO best ten practices is required. The table below summarizes how scheduling characteristics and best practices are related.


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About the Author

Hilal Al Rashdi



Hilal Al Rashdi
is currently working with Oman Power and Water Procurement Company as a project engineer. After completing six months of training rotation in the company departments, he was assigned to Project Implementation Department to monitor the projects under implementation stage, specifically construction and commissioning stages. He has one year experience in Power and Water Project focusing in HSE requirement, contract compliance, interfaces and project quality and delivery to operation team.  Currently, he is monitoring two water desalination projects (Qurayyat Independent Water Plant & Barka IV Independent Water Plant) and one power generation project (Ibri Independent Power Plant). Hilal holds B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from University of Kentucky, United States of America. He can be contacted at [email protected]

[1] GAO, GAO Schedule Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Project Schedules  
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid