How to Conduct a Successful PFMA - Lessons Learned from Past Successes and Failures: On-Demand

Potential failure modes analyses (PFMA) was first used in dam safety over twenty years ago. Although thousands of PFMA workshops have been conducted since it was first introduced, the use and application of PFMAs is still mostly limited to larger federal agencies and occasionally by others on larger projects. PFMA is a tool and a framework to evaluate dam and levee safety. It has fundamentally changed the way many now approach assessing and solving dam and levee safety issues. It’s the first question asked by some prior to deciding if actions or expenditures are warranted – “So what’s the potential failure mode?” The PFMA process has evolved over the years with new twists, ideas, and improvements to the process. Still, improvements are needed, some of which have been pointed out in the Oroville Spillway Independent Forensic Team Report. Preparation, process, and team composition remain key factors in the success or failure of a PFMA. This webinar will provide examples (both good and bad) and some suggested guidance.  

Key takeaways:
1. A brief overview of the evolution of the PFMA process,
2. A snapshot of where we are today in conducting PFMAs (the good, the bad, and the ugly),
3. A discussion of common pitfalls in preparing for and executing PFMAs,
4. A summary of some of the essential elements of a successful PFMA, and
5. Some thoughts on the future of PFMAs and how they might be scaled down for smaller projects.

Douglas D. Boyer, P.E., CEG

Chief, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Doug is a civil engineer and engineering geologist with 33 years of experience in dam and levee safety.  He currently serves as the Chief, Risk-Informed Decision Making Branch for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  Prior to re-joining FERC in 2016 he was the Western Division Chief for the US Army Corps of Engineers Risk Management Center in Denver, Colorado.  Other previous employment positions include:  Supervisor, Dam Safety Engineering with FERC in Portland, Oregon; Principal Designer and Engineering Geology Group Manager with the Bureau of Reclamation in Denver, Colorado; and Chief, Dam Safety Branch, Colorado Division of Water Resources in Denver, Colorado. He also has nearly 15 years of consulting experience.  Doug has a B.S. in Geological Sciences and a M.S. in Civil Engineering.  He is a former Board of Director and Vice President of the U.S. Society on Dams.  He is a licensed Professional Engineer, Professional Geologist, and Certified Engineering Geologist.  He has conducted, participated or reviewed hundreds of Potential Failure Mode Analyses (PFMA); has authored numerous presentations on the subject; and has conducted two ASDSO webinars on the PFMA process in 2014.

  1. Webinar Objectives
  2. PFMA Overview
    1. What is a PFMA?
    2. Benefits of PFMA
    3. Limitations of a PFMA
  3. What Does a Successful PFMA Look Like?
  4. Overview of the PFMA Process
  5. Essential Elements of a PFMA and Lessons Learned
    1. Workshop Preparation and Supporting Information
    2. Participant Roles and Responsibilities
      • i.     Facilitation
      • ii.     Note Taker
      • iii.     Subject Matter Experts
      • iv.     Owner’s Representatives
      • v.     Others
    3. Environmental Factors
    4. Identifying and Describing PFMs
    5. Evaluating and Classifying PFMs
    6. Identifying Appropriate PFM Actions
    7. Documentation
  6. Some Examples
  7. The Future of PFMA
  8. What about Smaller Projects?
  9. Summary of Lessons Learned
  10. Available PFMA Resources Comments/Questions/Answers


On- Demand Webinar
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2.00 PDH credits  |  Certificate available
2.00 PDH credits  |  Certificate available