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Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide

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Government Accountability Office Documents
Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide

Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Developing and Managing Capital Program Costs – dated March 2009

The U.S. Government Accountability Office is responsible for assisting the Congress in its oversight of the federal government, including agencies’ stewardship of public funds. The Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide is a compilation of best practices that federal cost estimating organizations and industry can use to develop and maintain reliable cost estimates throughout the life of an acquisition program.

The guide discusses generally accepted best practices for ensuring credible program cost estimates and the link between cost estimating and EVM. The link between cost estimating and EVM is critical, as both elements are needed for setting realistic program baselines and managing risk. Intended for government managers and auditors, the Cost Guide principles are meant to guide them in assessing the credibility of a program’s cost estimate for budget and decision making purposes as well as the program’s status using EVM. 

Chapters 1 to 17 discuss the importance of cost estimating and best practices associated with creating credible cost estimates. They describe how cost estimates predict, analyze, and evaluate a program’s cost and schedule and serve as a critical program control planning tool. The cost estimate is the basis for establishing the program’s detailed schedule and can be used to lay the foundation for the performance measurement baseline (PMB). Chapters 18 to 20 provide guidance on converting the cost estimate into an executable program and as a means for managing program costs. These chapters address the details of EVM – integrating cost estimation, system development oversight, and risk management. 

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