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Running head: THE ORION SHIELD PROJECT ANALYSIS

The Orion Shield Project Analysis


Amanda Kiebler
University of Maryland University College

THE ORION SHIELD PROJECT ANALYSIS

Executive Summary
Gary Allison was working as a talented project engineer for 14 years at Scientific
Engineering Corporation (SEC). He was given an opportunity to be a Project Manager on an
incoming project, the Orion Shield, by his manager, Henry Larsen. Henry Larsen insisted on
having an experienced engineer and someone who would be easily manipulated, as the Project
Manager. Gary Allison had no prior experience in project managing, but accepted the position
anyway. This paper takes a close look at the technical, ethical, legal, contractual and other
project management issues Gary Allison faces as he tries to work through the Orion Shield
Project. Gary was seen spending way too much time doing various aspects of the project and not
enough time managing. There were numerous oversights and failures by Henry Larsen and Gary
Allison that led to delays in the project schedule and ended up way over budget. Gary Allison
was given absurd tasks to complete by Sarah Wilson at SIT, which backed up the R&D on Garys
end. The Orion Shield Project should have been handled by an experienced project manager, not
someone like Gary Allison who had no formal training or knowledge of project management.
Gary was unable to plan the scope, schedule and cost of the project due to lack of knowledge and
eventually cost him his position as a project manager.

THE ORION SHIELD PROJECT ANALYSIS

Introduction
Gary Allison was chosen to be a project manager on a new project at Scientific
Engineering Corporation (SEC), the Orion Shield Project. Gary had no prior experience in
project management, as he worked for 14 years as a project engineer. Henry Larsen, the Director
of Engineering, wanted Gary Allison for the position so he could manipulate him in running the
project his way, unethically. Were going to take a look at the technical, ethical, legal, contractual
and other project management issues that Gary faced during his time on the Orion Shield Project.
Technical Issues
Way before the Orion Shield Project was started, before the proposal was even written
and accepted, there were issues. One of the main requirements was the material used needed to
withstand conditions of between 65F to 145F. Gary Allison knew the materials they had could
withstand conditions of 130F max. Henry Larsen told Gary to state in the proposal the materials
could withstand conditions of 155F (The Orion Shield Project, 2003). The next technical issue
they encountered is Henry Larsen started testing a new material, JXB3. It wasnt cleared with
SIT, but it had met all the requirements so STI did eventually accept it. Gary Allison later
discovered that JXB3 only had a life expectancy of less than 5 years. The original component
NASA was using lasted 6 years. This was another fact that was kept from SIT.
Ethical Issues
The Orion Shield Project started out with ethical issues from the beginning stages of the
project. Henry Larsen picked someone to run a project with no project management skills
because he wanted someone who was easily manipulated and someone he could push his
unethical business decisions on. Gary Allison was chosen for the position, with Henry Larsen
claiming because he wanted an experience engineer to run the project. From the beginning Henry

THE ORION SHIELD PROJECT ANALYSIS

Larsen was a liar and put Gary Allison in a position to lie as well. The RFP called for material to
withstand conditions up to 145F. Gary Allison told Henry Larsen that the material they had could
only withstand conditions up to 130F. Henry Larsen responded with I couldve just easily
selected an ethical project manager (The Orion Shield Project, 2003). Gary didnt want to lose
his new position so he complied with what Henry asked of him.
The next unethical situation Gary was faced with because of Henry was the testing of
new material. Not only did Henry test the new material for two weeks without tell Gary anything
about it, he told Gary to lie to SIT about the funding used to test the material. SIT was not
pleased to find out they tested a new material without approval. Gary told SIT the funding came
from SECs R&D department, when it actually came from SITs funding-which then put them
over budget.
The last unethical situation Gary was faced with was the life expectancy of the new
material, JXB3. After various testings on the new material, it was discovered that the life
expectancy of JXB3 is less than 5 years. Gary doesnt think its a good idea to mention this
information to SIT or with SEC until the production contract was signed. Gary withheld
imperative information from his team members and his manager, not to mention the company he
was working on the project for.
Legal Issues
There are quite a few legal issues that arose during the production of the Orion Shield
Project. The first legal issue is perjury, for two main reasons. The first reason is SEC falsified
their proposal to SIT, saying the material they have can withstand conditions up to 155F. Gary
should have told SIT the truth, even if Henry Larsen was pressuring him to be dishonest. Even
though it was just an RFP contract, it is a legally binding contract. Once the contract is submitted

THE ORION SHIELD PROJECT ANALYSIS

and approved, it becomes a legally binding contract (Enns, 2012). The next reason is when Gary
withheld information about JXB3. He discovered the life expectancy of JXB3 would be less than
5 years, but didnt relay this information to anyone. The final legal issue is breach of contract.
SEC used SIT funds for the new material, JXB3. Gary lied to SIT saying the SEC R&D
department incurred those costs. There was nowhere in the contract saying they had approval to
test new material, much less use their funding for it.
Contractual
The first contractual issue Gary Allison runs into with the Orion Shield Project is the fact
Henry Larsen told Gary the contract was a Fixed Price Incentive Fee (FPIF), when it was
actually a Firm Fixed Price (FFP). With a FPIF, if the results were delivered beyond the initial
requirements stated in the contract, SIT could have awarded SEC with a performance increase
for profit. Instead, the contract is a FFP, which means Gary cant ask for additional funding and
needed to be under budget to make a profit. It also means that SEC assumes maximum risk and
full responsibility for all costs and resulting profit or loss (Subpart 16.2Fixed-Price Contracts).
The FFP contract wasnt in the best interest of SEC because it didnt have a working model.
They were then put under the pressure of time constrains to deliver a model without additional
funding. Gary could have also read over the contract to know there was no working model and
planned accordingly.
A Cost Plus Fixed Fee (CPFF) contract would have been beneficial to SEC. A CPFF is a
contract that provides for payment to the contractor of a fee that is fixed at the beginning of the
contract. The fixed fee does not vary with actual cost, but may be adjusted as a result of changes
in the work to be performed under the contract (Subpart 16.3Cost-Reimbursement Contracts).

THE ORION SHIELD PROJECT ANALYSIS

This would have helped Gary with the extra costs from not having a working model, and it
wouldnt have decreased the profit SEC was counting on.
Other Project Management Issues
One of the major project management issues with the Orion Shield Project is that Gary
Allison has no project management experience but is leading a high cost project. Gary should
have been given the chance to take project management training before being thrown onto this
project. He would have had a better sense of understanding on how to manage a project and the
right tools to use. There was no mention of any planning programs that he used along the way.
He had the milestones noted and the target dates specified but that was it. Gary didnt have the
ability to plan out the schedule well enough for this project. Scope, time and cost all need to be
balanced to increase the success of project management.
Other management issues were that Garys own manager was pressuring him to be
dishonest. Gary is in the position to learn since he knows nothing about project management, and
who else could be a better role model than his own boss. Instead, Henry Larsen was the complete
opposite of a role model. At first Henry told Gary to lie in the proposal to SIT about the material
they would be using. He then told Gary the contract was a FPIF when it was actually a FFP. He
also used Paula Arnold for two weeks to test new material without ever telling Gary. Henry
played a major role in the downfall of the Orion Shield Project.
Finally, Sarah Wilson from SIT was very aggressive with her requests that she wanted
Gary to perform. She wanted minutes for the meetings, extra meetings and an on-site employee
to monitor SECs work. Sarah Wilson could have saw that Gary was struggling and could have
helped guide him through the project instead of giving him more work each time they had a

THE ORION SHIELD PROJECT ANALYSIS


meeting. It didnt show much unity between SEC and SIT and added more work to Garys
already full schedule.
Conclusion
The Orion Shield Project was bound to fail from the beginning. From the deception of
Henry Larsen to Gary Allisons lack of project management skills. There were numerous errors
that could have been avoided during this project if Gary had proper project management
experience or training as well as an ethical manager above him. Overall, the lessons that were
learned cost SEC future contracts and a lost profit.

THE ORION SHIELD PROJECT ANALYSIS


References
Enns, B. (2012). The Legal Implications of Issuing an RFP. Retrieved from Win Without
Pitching: http://www.winwithoutpitching.com/legal-implications-of-issuing-rfp/
Subpart 16.2Fixed-Price Contracts. (n.d.). Retrieved from Acquisition:
https://www.acquisition.gov/far/html/Subpart%2016_2.html
Subpart 16.3Cost-Reimbursement Contracts. (n.d.). Retrieved from Acquisition:
https://www.acquisition.gov/far/html/Subpart%2016_3.html
The Orion Shield Project. (2003). Retrieved from
https://umuc.equella.ecollege.com/file/486be203-9189-4e63-85e50f5270f7629a/1/home.html