Decision and Risk Analysis

Terry A. Bresnick

Innovative Decision Analysis

Decision Analysis (DA) for the Masses

We recently celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Decision Analysis.  While the field has made great inroads into the pharmaceutical and oil and gas industries, it has never achieved the broad appeal which its founders had envisioned. It certainly has not found its way to the broader population of individual decision makers such as small business owners or budding entrepreneurs. Yet, there’s a movement in that segment towards self-help and do-it-yourself programs.  This presentation describes an approach towards bringing DA to this broad segment by partnering with areas that do not traditionally incorporate decision analysis. The challenge is making DA accessible to those who are neither qualified nor interested in doing a full DA, yet preserving technical credibility of the approach. The acronym FOCCUSSED decision maker is used to present the building blocks of Frame, Objectives, Choices, Consequences, Uncertainty, Swaps, Solutions, Elicitation, and Dissemination.


Mr. Bresnick is the co-founder and former C.E.O. of Innovative Decisions, Inc., and has more than forty years’ experience in applying decision analysis to complex problems. He holds a B.S. in Engineering (U.S. Military Academy), Engineer Degree in Engineering-Economic Systems (Stanford University), and an M.B.A. in Decision Sciences (George Mason University). He taught Systems and Decision Analysis at the U.S. Military Academy.  Mr. Bresnick is a Professional Engineer, a Certified Analytics Professional, a Certified Financial Planner, and a Fellow of the Society of Decision Professionals.  He is a co-author of the Handbook of Decision Analysis and The FOCCUSSED Decision Maker.

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Timothy Niznik

Director of Operations and Decision Support
American Airlines

A New Approach To Hub Disruption Management At American Airlines

Severe thunderstorms at an airport can cause ramp closures, extensive Air Traffic Control delays, and flight diversions, all of which can lead to major disruptions of a flight schedule, especially when that airport is one of your major connecting hubs.In an effort to better manage such events a new decision support tool was developed to both predict and respond to degraded airport capacity, tarmac delays, gate congestion, misconnecting passengers, and other operational constraints such as crew legality, curfew restrictions, and airport staffing limitations.This talk will describe how the ability to anticipate operational irregularities before they actually occur combined with the ability to dynamically generate a new flight schedule in minutes has resulted in a significant shift in the disruption management philosophy and capabilities at American Airlines. This talk will also discuss some of the significant changes to the operation that have been introduced as a result of the recent merger with US Airways. Specifically, the addition of 4 new hub airports as well as the decision to re-bank or peak the schedules at all major hubs has made the use of this tool an even more critical function for effective recovery of the world’s largest airline.


Tim Niznik is Director, Operations Systems Planning and Decision Support at American Airlines. His primary area of responsibility includes providing decision support, analysis, and strategic direction to the Operations Control, Hub Control, and Operations Planning and Performance departments. He has been with American since 2000 and has been recognized internally within American and externally within the airline industry for his innovations in the areas of disruption management and air traffic flow management. Tim holds a M.Sc. in Mathematical Sciences from Clemson University and a Ph.D. in Operations Research and Economics from the Colorado School of Mines.

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Gregory S. Parnell

Research Professor, Department of Industrial Engineering and Director, M.S. in Operations Management Program
University of Arkansas

Creating and Exploring the System Tradespace

New systems involve complex decisions involving dynamic requirements, new technologies, major adversary/competition uncertainties, and conflicting stakeholder objectives. Trade-off analyses are the primary tool that systems analysts and systems engineers use to provide performance and affordability trade-off insights to program managers and senior decision makers throughout the system life cycle. While trade-off analyses are primarily prescriptive analytics, they must be based on sound predictive and descriptive analytics. Unfortunately, trade-off analyses are widely believed to be ineffective due to errors of omission (not doing the right things) and commission (doing the right things the wrong way). This presentation reports on a multiyear effort by system engineering thought leaders to improve the effectiveness of trade-off analyses using a Decision Management Process based on a decision analysis foundation.


Dr. Gregory S. Parnell is a Research Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Arkansas and Director of the M.S. in Operations Management program, the university’s largest graduate program. He is also a principal and board member with Innovative Decisions Inc. His research focuses on decision and risk analysis. He was lead editor of Decision Making for Systems Engineering and Management, (2nd Ed, Wiley and Sons, 2011), lead author of the Handbook of Decision Analysis, Wiley Operations Research/Management Science Series (Wiley and Sons, 2013), and editor of Trade-off Analytics: Creating and Exploring the System Tradespace, forthcoming, Wiley and Sons, 2016). He is a fellow of the Institute for Operations Research/Management Science, the International Committee for Systems Engineering, the Military Operations Research Society, and the Society for Decision ProfessionalsHe has won numerous awards including the 2014 Frank P. Ramsey Medal for distinguished contributions to the field of decision analysis. He previously taught at the West Point, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Air Force Institute of Technology. He has a PhD from Stanford University and is a retired Air Force Colonel.

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Nancy Potok

Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer
U.S. Census Bureau

How can analysis of Enterprise Risk Management data enhance your decision-making?

Effective Enterprise Risk Management enables analysis of risks that exist at every level of your organization. The larger the organization, the more challenging risk analysis is to achieve.  Lack of a systemic process for identifying, analyzing, and communicating risks across an organization increases threats to the organizations ability to achieve its mission.  Nancy Potok will provide the Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) Playbook that the Census Bureau implemented to address this challenge, enabling:

•   Executive decision support through the analysis of risk data
•   Visibility and management of risks across the enterprise
•   Management of multiple risks with a single response
•   Standardized risk management techniques, roles & responsibilities
•   Strategic & operational planning support
•   Enhanced risk analysis & reporting capabilities
•   Risk Governance and accountability
•   Reduced unanticipated events and the associated cost impacts


Dr. Nancy Potok is the Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Census Bureau. She previously served at the U.S. Department of Commerce as Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, the Census Bureau’s Associate Director for Demographic Programs, and the Principal Associate Director and Chief Financial Officer in charge of Field Operations, Information Technology, and Administration during the 2000 Census.

Dr. Potok has more than 30 years of public, private, and nonprofit senior management experience. She was the Chief Operating Officer of McManis & Monsalve Associates, a small business specializing in helping Fortune 500 companies and government agencies manage change and innovation. She was also the Senior Vice President and Director of the Economic, Labor and Population Studies Department at the University of Chicago National Opinion Research Center (NORC), a social science survey research organization.

Her public service includes working in the Judicial and Legislative Branches, as well as at the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

Dr. Potok is an adjunct professor at The George Washington University, an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), and a recipient of numerous awards, including The Association for Federal Enterprise Risk Management Leader of the Year, The George Washington University Trachtenberg School Distinguished Alumni Award, the Arthur S. Flemming Award and the Secretary of Commerce Gold Medal. She has published numerous articles on governmental management topics, and has presented papers, lectures, workshops, and classes in both national and international forums.

Dr. Potok earned her B.A. from Sonoma State University, M.A.S. from the University of Alabama, and Ph.D. from The George Washington University.

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Chris Sailer

Regional Account Manager, Cognitive Analytics
Intel Corporation

Anticipating Risks And Managing Threats With Cognitive Computing Systems


Infrastructure Risk Management teams seek to operationalize the anticipation and prediction of risk events by actively sensoring the external risk environment with intelligent IT systems. Sensoring the public environment external to the institution enables the detection and assessment of the weak signals, or precursors, of emergent risk. Current cognitive computing platforms deployed as Risk Management Information Systems (RMIS) are the thinking component of such sensoring efforts, enabling both social network analysis and the assessment of all inbound, unsolicited correspondence from public sources, including physical mail, email and voice mail transcripts. This in turn facilitates real-time public sentiment analysis, and the examination of the tone, tenor, content and context of individual communications.

This presentation will demonstrate that the automated assessment of written exemplars and transcripts of correspondence from persons can be utilized to categorize, score and assess the nature of the risk posed by their authors.


Chris Sailer currently serves as Account Manager (Regional), Cognitive Analytics, for Saffron Technology, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intel Corporation. He is focused on the delivery of cognitive computing platforms as risk management and threat management solutions for the Aerospace, Defense, and Intelligence sectors.

Previously Chris served as Deputy Director, Risk Management & Analysis (RMA) at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, responsible for the daily monitoring and assessment of the organization’s external risk environment and developing long-term strategies for mitigating future threats. RMA’s mission scope spanned the full spectrum of financial, infrastructure and reputational risk, while remaining focused on public sentiment analysis, cyber threats, due diligence investigations and the assessment of risks posed by persons and groups. The section employed a suite of sophisticated analytic tools unique to the IC, including IT platforms for data harvesting, knowledge discovery, data mining, link analysis and social network analysis. Chris is a graduate of Columbia University of New York, with a Masters in Organizational Psychology. He is a certified executive coach and graduate of the Columbia Coaching Certification Program (CCCP), a joint program of Columbia Business School and Teachers College. Chris is a Stanford Certified Project Manager (SCPM) and a graduate of Stanford University’s Strategic Decision and Risk Management (SDRM) Program. He was selected in 2013 as the foundation’s representative to the Domestic Security Executive Academy (DSEA) at the FBI Academy, Quantico, VA, and currently serves on the Bulk Intrusion Data Analysis (BIDA) working group for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 2015 IC Analyst-Private Sector Program. He is a Certified Criminal Intelligence Analyst (CCA) with the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts (IALEIA). Previously he served as a Special Agent with the US Army Criminal Investigation Command (USACIDC), and also served with Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) under the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade in both Panama and Ecuador.