The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently presented MIL staffer Karen McGee with the “USNRC Certificate of Appreciation” for work in support of the agencies’ complex MDM program. MIL’s MDM testing task was successfully performed by a small team of testing experts that consisted of Karen, Bill Kerrigan, and Chris George.

So, what is MDM anyway? To start with, MDM stands for Master Data Management, and it’s a comprehensive method of enabling an enterprise to link its critical data to a common point of reference. If executed properly, MDM improves data quality while streamlining data sharing across personnel and departments. MDM can also facilitate computing in multiple system architectures, platforms, and applications.

To learn a bit more about the MDM project and why it’s so critical to NRC and other government agencies, we asked Karen to explain how MDM was implemented at NRC to sunset one of its key legacy systems responsible for License Fee Billing.

Q: What did the legacy system NRC was retiring do in the first place?
A: The primary function of the legacy system was to create and maintain distinct codes that are used by all NRC employees to enter time spent on various work activities, projects, or services for License Fee Billing purposes.

Q: What role did MIL play in NRC’s MDM project?
A: MIL was brought in two months prior to NRC going live. We were asked to complete an end-to-end test of the data flows throughout NRC. We worked with NRC to develop the overall IV&V test strategy. We developed Test Case Logs, executed tests (with the assistance of users and development contractors), and documented results. We also coordinated the processing and tracking of all issues discovered during testing.

Q: What was the extent and type of issues uncovered?
A: Our team identified over 70 major issues with the 14 interfaces supporting the MDM program. As an example, all interfaces were not available at the start of our end-to-end testing, so testing had to be completed on an “interface availability” basis and had to continue even after “Go Live.” Data discrepancies between the systems also caused unexpected results. The test/non-production data in each of the systems did not match. This lack of data consistency through the end-to-end process resulted in numerous failures and discrepancies in our results.
Another issue we encountered was limited or no requirements or design documentation existing for the interfaces/APIs. So, all testing had to be planned and coordinated based on meetings with system owners and our prior knowledge of the MDM processes.
After being identified, these issues were all quickly fixed by the developers and re-tested prior to Go Live. We also reported checkpoint statistics on the testing status and prepared final test result packages and recommendations.

Q: Given NRC’s commendations, can we assume that the MDM project was a big success?
A: Yes. NRC’s MDM project successfully went live in October 2017. The effects of the implementation of MDM on License Fee Billing and invoicing were widespread. Many of the impacts include better identification and delineation of programs, better integration between systems, and more controls over data entry.

In its commendation to Karen, NRC officials noted, “This effort took an enormous amount of planning, collaboration, and communication across many corporate and program offices and regions. Because of the work done by this group, the Agency now has a robust MDM program that provides authoritative data sources and data standards; this has resulted in improved data quality, reporting and clarity in both internal and external processes.”

Karen McGee is a Senior Assistant Vice President at MIL with nearly three decades of federal contracting experience. For the past 20 years, Karen has brought her industry expertise to serve MIL customers at NRC, the Department of State, the Universal Service Administrative Company, Department of Housing and Urban Development, among others, supporting diverse financial management, program management, business process re-engineering, systems implementations, IV&V support, and systems analysis and design initiatives. Along with holding Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Brown University, Karen is a Project Management Professional (PMP), a member of the Association of Government Accountants, and a Certified Government Financial Manager.