Theater High Altitude Area Defense


The Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) was a project representing project analysis or management case study. For a project audit, the project’s operation, constraints and technical aspects are sought and documented hence the case study is one (Shenhar, Levy & Dvir, 2007). As opposed to management audit and financial audits where leadership decisions and financial matters are looked into, a project audit looks at system working (Ruskin & Esies, 1995). Testing procedures and quality assurance standards were under investigation with the major focus being on the project’s personnel and contractor. The audit took more of a post-analysis approach while at the same time verifying its go/no-go control purpose.

Project errors were made, discovered and where possible rectified. It is therefore right to conclude that the audit was meant to document reasons for failure. Early prototype systems served as a diversion from real underlying issues. The normal interceptor development process experienced interruption had an effect on optimum test data. The project’s initial six stages were futile. Thus, the audit would serve as a point of reference for future projects. At the same time, the audit took a revealing form choosing to specify where errors were deemed potential as well. For instance, failure to improve component level design and intensification of quality control methods was termed as a point of failure for future projects.

For an audit team, GAO did a remarkable job in trying to find root causes for delays and errors in THAAD. Being a neutral party gave it an edge as the issue of core elements of competency and objectivity were bound to be raised. The audit team would have the trust of the project personnel on the virtue of integrity (Ruskin & Esies, 1995). In the first place, the team was reviewing a national security project. Though the missile program was not in use at the time, it would have an implication later on during the post project phases. Therefore, the project personnel had to treat the audit team as independent and disclose all details for efficiency purposes. Unreliable components resulting from insufficient emphasis on quality assurance also forced the contractor to give way to the audit team.

Core competencies for auditors include integrity, objectivity, objectivity and ethics as defined in their professional Code of Ethics. These are primary elements needed in an audit team that would have enabled an audit void of discrepancies (Walker & Bracey, 1980). Similarly, independence was vital that proved worthy in analyzing all parts of the program including the Program Definition and Risk Reduction (PDRR) phase. Underlying issues involving tests and manufacturing problems were discovered upon composing a solid team made up of the major stakeholders. The program office, the main and sub-contractors came in handy prior to making major decisions on solutions.

From the use of deployable, early prototype interceptors, inadequate emphasis on component quality standards by the contractor to lack of program competition and performance-based incentives, the project has serious errors. This prompted the utilization of a data management system that was electronic based. The underlying problems had to be documented in the audit report. This would involve the major players for the improvement programs too. Within the auditor’s report in the program’s underlying problems section, issues found with the program would be reported (Shenhar, Levy & Dvir, 2007). Only then would solutions and restructured program prospects be documented.



Ruskin, A. M. & Esies, W. E. (August, 1995). “The Project ManagementAudit: Its Role and Conduct.” Project Management Journal.

Walker, M. G. & Bracey, R. (March, 1980). “Independent Auditing As Project Control.” Datamation.

Shenhar, A. J., Levy, O. &Dvir, D. (June, 2007). “Mapping theDimensions of Project Success.” Project ManagementJournal.


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