Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Keith Molenaar

Second Advisor

Paul Goodrum

Third Advisor

Matthew Morris

Fourth Advisor

G. Edward Gibson, Jr.


Industry practitioners and researchers recognize project scope definition as a factor of project success in terms of cost and schedule. The Construction Industry Institute developed the Project Definition Rating Index (PDRI) as a tool to aid in the effectiveness of scope development. The Air Force has adopted use of this tool, though has yet to validate its effectiveness empirically. The objective of this study is to provide that empirical validation by comparing the cost, schedule, and budget estimate performance metrics of Air Force military construction (MILCON) projects that used the PDRI against those that did not. Project data for 263 (100 PDRI and 163 non-PDRI) MILCON projects worth $3.9 billion were analyzed. The projects that used the PDRI performed better on all three metrics, with statistically significant results on both cost and schedule growth. This study provides empirical evidence of how the use of formal scope definition tools can improve performance for Air Force MILCON projects. When compared to previous research, the study also contributes to a broader understanding of scope definition in the design and construction industry.