News Release

May 7, 2018

For Immediate Release
Contact: Fiona Gettinger, Communications Associate, 703-824-2388

CNA Launches ISAAC
New predictive tool will help government agencies manage large IT project schedules and budgets

Arlington, Va. — CNA announced today that it has developed a new tool to help managers of large information technology programs identify risk areas and detect early warning signals of cost overruns. ISAAC (Indicator for Schedule Analysis And Cost) utilizes predictive metrics and applied models to forecast future performance trends and gives managers advance warning if there is a need for course correction.

The Rayleigh distribution, a continuous probability distribution model, is the backbone of ISAAC. CNA has successfully implemented statistical modeling using the Rayleigh distribution as a copyrighted project management tool at the Department of Defense (DOD), and the model has proven to be an early indicator of cost and schedule overruns when evaluating large DOD acquisition contracts.

“ISSAC is a powerful analytic tool, scientifically tested and developed from years of experience, which will increase by multiple factors an agency’s ability to monitor and quickly identify potential cost and schedule issues on large scale projects or acquisitions. ISAAC enables agencies to take action on potential problems before they occur and ensures successful completion of projects on time and within budget,” said Tim Beres, executive vice president for CNA’s Institute for Public Research.

Beres said the model works particularly well for forecasting the progress of software development projects because it can account for the slow ramp-up, peak spending as the program becomes more complex and gradual tail-off toward completion. In addition to projecting final cost and schedule, ISAAC can identify risk areas related to the likelihood of exceeding cost and schedule estimates for additional monitoring or mitigation.

ISAAC generates predictive metrics based on historically observed trends in program performance. With only three data points, it can generate a Rayleigh model to compare against the planned schedule and budget. It is easy to integrate into any agency procurement process, using data the government is already collecting through traditional project management processes.

“By conducting additional analysis on the data the government already collects, CNA researchers have found they can identify predictive metrics and forecast future performance,” said Katherine McGrady, CNA president and CEO. “Our government’s technology modernization efforts often have high visibility and intense pressure to meet performance targets. Together with CNA’s decades of experience with IT program management for some of the nation’s most critical systems in homeland security, defense and aviation, ISAAC will improve performance on complex projects.”

On Wednesday, May 9, CNA analysts Jocelyn Cox and Matt Prebble will present ISAAC at the 16th Annual Conference on Systems Engineering Research at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Their presentation is titled, “Application of the Rayleigh Model to Predict Information Technology Program Cost and Schedule Performance.”

CNA is a nonprofit research and analysis organization dedicated to developing actionable solutions to complex problems of national importance. With nearly 700 scientists, analysts and professional staff, CNA takes a real-world approach to gathering data. Its one-of-a-kind field program places analysts on carriers and military bases, in squad rooms and classrooms, and working side-by-side with a wide array of government decision-makers around the world. In addition to defense-related matters for the U.S. Department of the Navy, CNA’s research portfolio includes criminal justice, homeland security, energy security, water resources, enterprise systems and data analysis, and education.

Note to writers and editors: CNA is not an acronym and is correctly referenced as "CNA, a research organization in Arlington, VA."


Christine LaPaille
Director of Communications
3003 Washington Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201