UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE / MARITIME ADMINISTRATION
Why would anyone care about it today?
1. The most immediate direct application (in early 2000), is as one of a number of models as the Iowa City Community School District Board of Directors applies the governance principles of John Carver's Reinventing Your Board to the work of the school district.
2. It is, in that connection, also of relevance because of the insight it provides into the past experience and expectations of one of those Board members, Nicholas Johnson, who was the moving force behind the creation of what was at the time a relatively innovative approach to the administration of a multi-billion-dollar government agency and its programs. Thus, it provides an insight into his thinking and proposals for the school district's management information reporting system. (Another board member, Don Jackson, brings his own experience and knowledge of another system: that used today by Proctor and Gamble. Not incidentally, the consistency between the two is remarkable.)
3. Although 35 years old (in 2000) it still constitutes a useful model for other for-profit, non-profit, and governmental organizations. Moreover, it has the advantage of relative brevity -- and the avoidance of the need for the prior acquisition of an M.B.A. degree.
4. Finally, it may be of some use to present employees of the U.S. Maritime Administration, academics or others interested in the history of MARAD.
5. An effort has been made, including pagination, to present the publication here in a way that is similar in appearance to the hard copy.
6. The scanned images of the charts are of poor quality deliberately, in order to minimize the size of this Web page, its storage space, and loading time. But the specific content of the charts is of little relevance anyway (unless you happen to find yourself building extremely large ships). They are included to illustrate how seemingly different programs and projects can be graphically presented in ways that are of sufficient consistency to enable one to get the one, two or three messages they are intended to communicate in the shortest time possible.
7. Of course, in 1965 desktop computers with Power Point and comparable presentation software were not available. We used photographic color slides -- although most of the charts themselves did not need to be recreated in their entirety. However, that is but a detail. The approach, and consistency of graphics, can be identical today to what they were then and can easily be adapted to today's -- and tomorrow's -- technology.
-- Nicholas Johnson, Iowa City, Iowa, January 7, 2000
[outside front cover]
[inside front cover]
President Johnson and Secretary of Commerce John T. Connor have called for more efficient and effective management of government agencies. Maritime's response to this challenge is, in part, described in this booklet.
In a memorandum to members of the staff, dated September 2, 1965, I stated:
"Each of us has contributed in some way to the development of the "Monthly Marad Review" -- a streamlined and meaningful method of reporting on the various programs of the Maritime Administration through the medium of a color slide presentation accompanied by brief oral reports.This booklet has been prepared in the hope this system may be better understood, by ourselves and others who are interested, by providing a brief description of its creation and operation.
It is principally the product of Anthony J. Ossi, Chief, Division of Management, and his staff, as reviewed by Phil Asher, Chief, Office of Budget and Management.
They join me in hoping you may find this description of some interest and benefit.
page1. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
2. PROGRAM STRUCTURE . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
3. BAROMETERS OF PERFORMANCE . . . . . 5
4. MONTHLY MARAD REVIEW . . . . . . . . . . 8
5. PROGRAM PRESENTATIONS . . . . . . . . . 9
6. PROGRESS CHARTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
7. MARITIME CALENDARS . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
8. SUMMARY . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
[unnumbered first page]
In 1964, shortly after his appointment, the Maritime Administrator, Mr. Nicholas Johnson, determined that an integrated management reporting system was needed in the Maritime Administration, to improve the flow of information to the Administrator and other key officials, and to serve as a basis for executive level management and control of all its programs and operations. To this end, a reporting system was established by the Maritime Administration with the following principal elements:
1. A program structure, which defines the purpose, plan of action, and goal of each major program and project of the Agency.
2. Barometers of performance, which provide meaningful indexes, in quantitative terms, for evaluating the progress of each project toward achievement of the established goal.
3. Monthly reports to the Administrator and other officials, through which management information communication is accomplished, largely by use of visual aids.
4. Special visual presentations on individual programs at weekly staff meetings or at special briefings.
5. Uniform progress charts, which are maintained by operating offices to show the progress of their activities against predetermined goals.
6. Maritime planning calendars which list day by day for the coming month and year all events of major significance in the activities of the Maritime Administration, Maritime Administrator and other officials.
These elements have been combined into an integrated reporting system, designed to provide meaningful information in streamlined form to various levels of management, through the use of modern techniques of visual information communication, for decision-making, planning, direction, and control of all programs and projects of the Agency.
Although some consideration was given to obtaining the services of outside experts to assist in the development of this integrated reporting system, the task was undertaken by the Maritime Administration with its own in-house capabilities and resources. In April 1965, it was completed substantially in its present form, after a continuing process of development and refinement of all its elements.
This booklet describes the system and how it operates.
As a foundation for Marad's reporting system, a program
structure has been established which identifies and defines all major programs
and projects of the Agency. This structure is outlined in a document entitled
"MARAD PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS INDEX." It encompasses about 80 programs and
projects, organized into eight series as follows:
|Maritime Policy Planning||20|
|Information and Events||70|
|Illustration 1 represents a segment of the program structure. Each program area is divided into appropriate programs and projects. The index shows the assigned code and the officials who have been designated as "reporter" and "alternate reporter," with responsibility for reporting periodically on the status and progress of each project. Also shown is the Office having primary responsibility for the project.||
|The purpose, plan of action, and goal of each project
are described, in brief and concise form, in a second document entitled
"MARAD PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS." Illustration 2 represents the project description
for one of the approved projects, the Ship Scrapping Program. (Project
No. 62.1). As indicated in, this illustration, the goals are stated in
quantitative terms, generally in relation to specified intervals of time.
Project descriptions are subject to review and approval of the Maritime Administrator. Each project is thus undertaken only if it stands the test of justification before top management as well as the operating officials, particularly as to conformance with the overall policies, objectives, and mission of the Agency. In addition, the program reporter has the benefit of any executive influence that the Administrator may wish to exercise over the conduct of the project, including its objectives and goals.
After approval, all projects are subject to a continuing
review and evaluation by management and by the program reporters. The program
structure is updated periodically to reflect all additions and deletions,
and any other changes in program, projects, methods, and goals, as warranted.
(Project No. 62.1)
Purpose: The purpose of this program is to sell for scrap at a reasonable return to the taxpayers all Maritime Administration-owned ships no longer considered worth retaining in the National Defense Reserve Fleets because of their condition or characteristics.
Plan of Action: Ships are scheduled for sale based on location of the ships, market surveys, and condition. The ships are advertised for competitive bids, and sales are made on a cash basis with delivery at reserve fleet site.
Goal: The goal of this program is to sell 120 ships during calendar 1965 and 100 per year through 1969 at a gross revenue in excess of $5 million per year.
Barometers of Performance:
(a) Monthly Scrap Sales: Calendar year chart showing, by month, actual and projected number of scrap candidates, ships sold, and accumulated sales, updated monthly.
(b) Annual Scrap Sales: Chart showing actual and projected scrap candidates, ships sold, and cumulative sales and revenues, 10 year span, updated yearly.
BAROMETERS OF PERFORMANCE
A barometer of performance is the tool that is used to measure and report on actual progress as compared with the projected goal of a project. In Marad's reporting system, the barometers of performance represent specific charts which are prepared to demonstrate, in a quantitative way: (a) the goal that has been established for each project over a given time span, and (b) the progress that has been achieved against that goal.
These barometers of performance are described, together with the purpose, plan of action, and goal, in the project description. (See Illustration 2.) They are subject to review and approval of the Maritime Administrator.
A system of charts has been developed which is designed to show the progress of each project, vividly and at a glance. All charts are prepared in colors and, generally, with the same basic format, in a size suitable for 35 mm. colored slides.
Illustration 3 shows the features which the charts have in common. These are as follows:
1. The "Project Number," "Program Title," "Subprogram Title," and other identifying information, as set forth in the program structure and project description, are shown in the left section of the chart.
2. The "Time Span" is shown in top center section. This span represents the interval of time which has been set for completion of the project. It may cover a stated number of weeks, months, quarters, or years, depending on the nature of the project and the goal that has been established for it.
3. The "Time Now" indicates, with an arrow, the point on the time scale which corresponds to the current reporting date.
4. A progress indicator, or signal, is shown in the upper
right corner of the chart, in one of the following colors:
|Green||indicates that the project is "on target" toward achievement of goal.|
|Orange||indicates a "minor weakness." The project is running into some difficulty, and will require close attention.|
|Red||indicates "major weakness." Top management action may be required to correct the difficulty.|
|The planned and actual progress is shown the body of
the chart, as shown in Illustrations 4-7. These illustrations show the
four basic techniques that are followed, with a few exceptions, in preparing
the various charts.
Illustration 4 -- shows the planned and actual progress, by a simple line graph. Progress is measured in quantitative terms, such as number of ships sold, percentage of ships completed, dollar amounts saved, cargo tons carried, etc.
Illustration 5 -- This is a variation of Illustration 4 and is utilized when it is not feasible to set a firm goal for a project, particularly when its achievement is to some extent outside of Marad's control. In this case, a goal is established in terms of a range between a "high" and "low" level of performance which is desired. Actual progress within this range, as represented by the conical shaded area, is deemed to be satisfactory performance.
Illustration 6 -- This format is utilized primarily for projects which have a number of sub-projects or component parts, each with its own beginning and ending date. A solid bar shows the date it is planned to begin and complete each part. A green, orange, or red signal, displayed to the right of the title of each part, indicates whether actual progress toward achievement of the goal is on target or is experiencing minor or major difficulties at the time of reporting.
Illustration 7 -- This format is utilized for projects consisting of a number of steps to be completed in a predetermined sequence. This is a form of milestone chart. The horizontal lines show: (a) by a broken line, the time interval within which it was planned to complete each step; and (b) by a solid line, the time actually taken to complete the step. The vertical lines are indicative of the completion of one step and the commencement of the next step.
Marad's reporting system is not a rigid one. These basic formats or adaptations thereof may be used, as required, to demonstrate the progress of each project in the most meaningful way. For example, Illustration 8 represents a varia-
Despite these variations there is built into the system a degree of uniformity and simplicity that is needed to facilitate a quick understanding of the message being communicated.
Another feature of this system is the simplicity with
which the charts can be prepared and then updated periodically. After initial
preparation, it is not necessary, as a general rule, to redraw any chart
during the period covered by the project. Also, the descriptive information
is kept to a minimum, taking into consideration that the system is intended
primarily to serve as an internal management tool for officials of the
Agency who have a prior understanding of the subject being reported.
MONTHLY MARAD REVIEW
The "Monthly Marad Review" is the medium through which management information on the progress of the Agency's projects is communicated to the Maritime Administrator and other key officials, on a regular and systematic basis. It is held normally on the first Friday of each month.
This monthly review consists of brief reports by all program reporters on their individual projects, using colored slides prepared from the charts described in Section 3. (See cover.) There are some exceptions. Because of the nature of some projects, few in number, the reporting is made only at quarterly intervals.
In addition to reporting on progress and past month's accomplishments, each program reporter highlights any major obstacles that have been encountered, any anticipated future events of consequence to the program, and other significant developments. The principle of "management by exception" is followed, as appropriate. Thus, if the chart or barometer of performance indicates that the project is on target, little or no discussion is normally required. On the other hand, if a minor or major weakness is indicated, the program reporter is expected to give the reasons and explain the corrective measures being taken or assistance required. He also answers any questions concerning the project.
Attendance at these monthly meetings usually includes
the Maritime Administrator, Deputy Maritime Administrator, Staff Officials,
Office Chiefs, Deputy Office Chiefs, Division Chiefs, Program Reporters,
and Trainees and a limited number of guests from the Department of Commerce,
representatives from Congressional Committees, and other Agencies. Other
employees of the Maritime Administration are also invited to attend a presentation
from time to time, to give them a brief overview of all the programs of
the Agency and their status. In addition, the slides together with it recording
of the review are circulated
each month to the three Coast Districts, where similar presentations are made for the benefit of field employees.
The Monthly Marad Review thus serves not only as a focal point for top management review of the Agency's progress against projected goals, on a project by project basis, but also as a tool for training and making the entire staff better informed about the Agency's mission and its progress.
As indicated in Section 4, the "Monthly Marad Review" is intended to serve primarily as a periodic evaluation of program progress. For this purpose, the report on each project is necessarily brief. There is a need also, as a part of Marad's management reporting system, to provide a more comprehensive presentation of the various programs and projects of the Maritime Administration. These presentations are prepared by the appropriate program reporters, with slides and include such aspects of each project as background information, description of the activities and physical facilities involved, costs and benefits, present status and future plans regarding the projects.
A slide presentation of this type is made to the Maritime Administrator, other key officials and selected members of the staff at each weekly staff meeting. It usually takes 15-20 minutes. As in the case of the Monthly Marad Review, these presentations are recorded and circulated to the District Offices.
Special program presentations are prepared also for other purposes, such as briefings before the Secretary of Commerce, other Department of Commerce officials, the Bureau of the Budget, Congressional Committees, and other groups in and out of Government. These vary in length and content depending on the specific purpose intended.
All of these presentations, together with the Monthly
Marad Review, provide a library of material,,, in ready form, which can
be used for other special presentations. For example, one such presentation
has been put together, entitled "This is Marad," covering all principal
programs and activities of the Maritime Administration. This is a beneficial
by-product of the various slide presentations -- the capacity to put together
other special presentations that may be needed from time to time for various
A uniform system of progress charts has been developed also for the use of lower levels of management to show the progress of their activities against predetermined goals. This system represents another management tool used by the Maritime Administration for the direction and control of its activities, through the use of visual aids.
Progress charts are maintained by the various offices, at the Office, Division or Branch level, for project-type activities which are not appropriate for reporting to top management.
Two basic formats are used for this purpose, as shown in Illustrations 10 and 11.
The chart in Illustration 10 is used for activities which include a number of projects of the same type, each consisting of similar component steps. The legend in the upper right section of the chart identifies the steps and assigns a distinctive colored bar to each. The individual projects are listed in the left section of the chart, together with a beginning date and planned date of completion.
For each project, there are two bars, in colors keyed to the legend. The top bar shows the dates it is planned to complete each step and the project as I whole. This is the goal. The lower bar shows the actual progress.
The chart in Illustration 11 is used for individual projects which have a number of steps or action milestones occurring
The horizontal bars on the graph indicate: (a) In one color, the dates it is planned to begin and complete each step (this is the goal) ; and (b) in another color, the actual progress accomplished to date.
Both of these charts are prepared on preprinted forms. The colored bars and lines are entered by a simple process, through use of gummed colored tapes.
All offices are encouraged to use variations of these
uniform progress charts or any other charts to assist them in managing
their activities, if the standard formats are not found suitable.
The Maritime Planning Calendars represent another medium through which management information is communicated in the Maritime Administration. These calendars list day by day all events of major significance to the Maritime Administration, the Maritime Administrator and other officials. Examples of such events are planned contract awards, significant ship deliveries or launching, budget hearings before the Bureau of the Budget or Congressional Committees, foreign travel, and participation by the Administrator or other key officials in conferences, conventions, or similar activities.
Illustration 12 shows a segment of the Maritime Calendar which is issued biweekly, to show the coming events, day by day, for the next four weeks. Another calendar -- the Maritime Planning Calendar -- is issued monthly to show, day by day, the coming events for the next twelve months.
Copies of these calendars are issued to all officials of the Maritime Administration, for their use and guidance in planning their activities, particularly with regard to those events in which they are expected to participate or otherwise contribute in any way.
Marad's Management Information Reporting System is designed to provide a more effective means of management direction and control of the Agency's major programs and projects, through the use of modern techniques of management information communication. This booklet describes the basic features of the system. It is, of course, subject to a continuing process of refinement and improvement.
In summary, this system:
1. Establishes a program structure, which defines the major programs and projects of the Maritime Administration, including the objectives and plan of action, in relation to the assigned missions of the Agency.
2. Establishes meaningful goals for each project, leading to the accomplishment of its objectives.
3. Establishes barometers of performance, expressed in quantitative terms, for periodic evaluation of progress toward achievement of the goal.
4. Provides a streamlined method of reporting periodically on the progress of the various projects, through the medium of color slide presentations.
5. Provides a mechanism for preparing and making more detailed color slide presentations on individual programs and projects of the Agency, for weekly staff meetings or for special briefings before officials of the Maritime Administration, Department of Commerce and other groups.
6. Provides a basis for "on-call" presentations on specific programs or on all the programs and activities of the Agency.
7. Provides a simple charting technique for the use of operating offices to show the progress of their activities against predetermined goals.
8. Provides a mechanism for communicating management information on the programs of the Maritime Administration, not only to top management but also to other officials and employees of the Agency, in Washington and in the field, thus giving them a better understanding of their assigned responsibilities in relation to the total program.
9. Provides for the integration of all these elements into a planned and systematic method of reporting and communication of management information.
[inside back cover]