The government is waking up to the incredible waste in federal software procurement. In 2000, a DOD study showed that 75% of $34B in projects was totally wasted. Ken Schwaber and I reviewed the Sentinel Project at the FBI in our latest book Software in 30 Days and found an even higher level of waste where an agile team in the basement of the FBI finished over 80% of the work in 10% of the budget after Lockheed Martin was issued a stop work order for their abysmal waterfall performance. An item was passed into law in 2010 requiring DOD to demand agile practices in procuring software. We have commented on this previously. As a result the Government Accounting Office is reviewing agile software practices and issued a new report.
Why GAO Did This Study
Federal agencies depend on IT to support their missions and spent at least $76 billion on IT in fiscal year 2011. However, long-standing congressional interest has contributed to the identification of numerous examples of lengthy IT projects that incurred cost overruns and schedule delays while contributing little to mission-related outcomes. To reduce the risk of such problems, the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB) recommends modular software delivery consistent with an approach known as Agile, which calls for producing software in small, short increments. Recently, several agencies have applied Agile practices to their software projects.
GAO Develops an Impediment List
Federal Agencies encountered problems implementing agile practices that are typical in commercial software development firms. Aggressive assessment and remediation is required.
Federal Agency Impediment List
- Teams had difficulty collaborating closely.
- Procurement practices may not support Agile projects.
- Teams had difficulty transitioning to self-directed work.
- Customers did not trust iterative solutions.
- Staff had difficulty committing to more timely and frequent input.
- Teams had difficulty managing iterative requirements.
- Agencies had trouble committing staff.
- Compliance reviews were difficult to execute within an iteration time frame.
- Timely adoption of new tools was difficult.
- Federal reporting practices do not align with Agile.
- Technical environments were difficult to establish and maintain.
- Traditional artifact reviews do not align with Agile.
- Agile guidance was not clear.
- Traditional status tracking does not align with Agile