A new group aims to bring together public sector IT professionals around the principles of Agile Development. The new community of professionals, Agile for Gov, has created a website, agileforgov.org, and associated resources, social media and discussion forums to help government leaders and agencies better connect and understand issues around agile methodologies and adoption.
“What we are hoping to do is be a resource for professionals as they learn and use Agile,” says Bill Haight, Salt Lake City Chief Information Officer, and Agile for Gov steering committee member, in an interview with CivSource.
The group’s mission is to foster awareness and begin to create and aggregate resources that will make it easier for those implementing agile development to access information and get support from their peers within the public sector.
The launch of the group comes on the heels of an announcement from the Obama Administration that it would be supporting a Digital Service to help manage government IT projects at the federal level, including a focus on Agile. “That was really a coincidence for us,” adds Luke Fretwell, a government technology strategist and Agile for Gov member. The group hopes to provide its expertise as more initiatives like the Digital Service get underway at all levels of government.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the federal government alone has wasted billions on failed IT projects and, in a 2012 report, recommended to the U.S. chief information officer and CIO Council that they pursue agile and modular approaches to technology project management. While agile has been widely adopted within the private sector, it still faces cultural and bureaucratic challenges inside government, where project life cycles typically adhere to a “waterfall” approach that entails a long-term specification process prior to actual production and development work is started.
“Initially we’re going to provide a digital knowledge base where professionals can learn about Agile, eventually we hope to be a networking point for people to get together and share information or collaborate on projects,” Haight says.
So far, Agile development has been formally adopted by a number of federal and state agencies, including Federal Communications Commission, General Services Administration, Census Bureau and Department of Homeland Security and city and state governments such as Salt Lake City and Maine.