Goodpaster Award for Excellence in Research

Photo, Brian Rieksts

Brian Rieksts is the recipient of the 2023 Andrew J. Goodpaster Award for Excellence in Research. The award is named for retired Army Gen. Andrew J. Goodpaster, IDA’s president from 1983 to 1985. Each year, the award is given to a research staff member who demonstrates research excellence, exceptional analytical achievement and intellectual leadership in support of SAC or STPI missions.

Brian joined CARD in 2005 shortly after earning a Ph.D. in industrial engineering and operations research at Pennsylvania State University. Over the past 19 years, he has been an outstanding analyst, influential project leader and wonderful colleague. Brian is multitalented and has demonstrated analytical excellence on a wide range of IDA projects. Perhaps most notably, he has been instrumental to the success of the series of high-profile, high-impact analyses for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Shortly after joining IDA, Brian became involved with the VA as the lead analyst of our impactful State Variance Study of VA Disability Compensation claims. On this project, Brian analyzed millions of records in an early application of big data analytics at IDA.

In 2019, the VA again requested IDA assistance to conduct a Quality Assurance Review (QAR) for the VA Electronic Health Record Modernization Program (EHRM). This QAR was a one year, cross-divisional IDA effort that Brian co-led successfully – even in the enormously challenging year of 2020.

Most recently the VA asked IDA to produce an Independent Cost Estimate for the VA EHRM program. Brian skillfully led the team that produced an influential and comprehensive life-cycle cost estimate for the program. He personally briefed the IDA findings to the VA Deputy Secretary and was called to testify in person at a congressional hearing. Initially projected to be a $16.1 billion program, IDA’s more comprehensive, independent life-cycle estimate showed the true life-cycle cost was expected to be about $50 billion. Brian’s work had an immediate impact and completely changed the narrative on the expected cost of this high-profile program.