Agile Becomes a Core Competency of Government

Agile is not a technology but rather an approach. As such, the barriers to adoption are not technical, they are cultural. Moving to Agile requires a complete shift in thinking from waterfall development. No longer is it feasible to set requirements at the beginning of the project and then design to those specifications, not launching until the whole system is complete. Rather, Agile works more in line with the pace of today, emphasizing constant communication to introduce change into the development process and encouraging small elements of the end solution to be released throughout the project lifecycle. Use of Agile in government has come a long way, but there is still room for improvement in how agencies meet digital goals and expectations.

All in this together

Introducing Agile requires a collaborative approach. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) strategically groups cloud specialists, who are more versed in Agile development, with the more traditional data center workforce. Together, they are given a very specific scope of web servers to modernize. This collaboration allows the Agile team to be fully informed about the existing structure they are modernizing and introduces traditional developers to the new approach - both groups are playing to their strengths while learning.

Tracking Agility

Agile is no longer seen as a novel approach. It is now considered a critical process for meeting government goals for modernization and digitization. The Inspector General for the Social Security Administration (SSA) did an audit focused solely on the agency's Agile practices and found them lacking. The findings included 12 recommendations concerning the need to revise Agency guidance, policies, and procedures; leverage strategic-level portfolio planning capabilities; create standardized reports to be used for all Agile projects; and institute a program of executive-level Agile coaching.

Similarly, a report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that the Department of Defense (DoD) "must adopt new approaches to software design and architecture to help the U.S. military maintain an operational advantage over global adversaries." More and more military operations are being fought with software. Even traditional weapons and tools have software built in to help guide use and maintenance. Ensuring that software meets the needs in the field at any given time requires the ability to quickly adapt and change functionality.

Key to the PMA

Agile development practices are key to meeting the goals of the President's Management Agenda (PMA). Agile processes encompass an equality and equity that today's workforce is looking for. The collaborative nature allows all team members to have a say in how solutions are developed. This inclusion not only meets equity and inclusion goals but also "strengthens and empowers the federal workforce" by creating an atmosphere where the next generation of workers feel heard and want to work. "Delivering Excellent, Equitable, and Secure Federal Services and Customer Experience" means designing with the end user in mind. This requires the constant feedback loops built into the Agile process.

GovEvents and GovWhitePapers have a host of resources to inform government's Agile journey.

  • Prioritizing for Success: How Agencies Are Planning for 2023 (November 9, 2022; virtual) - Government and industry experts share their thoughts on where the focus should be in 2023. They will discuss topics including technology investments, management efforts and transformation initiatives.
  • Second Annual IT Modernization and Transformation Forum (November 10, 2022; virtual) - This event includes distinguished military, government and industry officials discussing the nation's top IT challenges, opportunities, initiatives and solutions--and the implications these factors will have on the future of the GovCon ecosystem.
  • ATARC Federal DevOps Breakfast Summit (November 30, 2022; Washington, DC) - This panel will focus on roadblocks towards DevOps and Agile adoption and address how to overcome them. What are the challenges to DevOps adoption? What are steps that help make DevOps a reality?
  • The Orion JK21 Collaboration for Agile ATO (white paper) - This report details the¬†results of the Orion JK21 Pilot Project. Cloud Security working group representatives from private and public sector, proposed a proof of concept that aimed to demonstrate how trending technologies and concepts-Zero Trust, DevSecOps, Agile Authorizations to Operate, and more--applied to cloud environments.
  • Meet Your Mission by Unifying Agency Strategy with Program Execution (white paper) - Government has demonstrated unprecedented agility in response to pandemic work scenarios. The key is for these Federal agencies to harness and sustain this mindset shift, unlocking innovation for years to come. Discover how to break through the red tape and equip your teams--wherever they work--to carry out their mission with greater speed and efficiency while helping maintain security and compliance along the way.

To learn more about Agile in government check out GovEvents and GovWhitePapers.

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