GAO: DHS has made significant progress in implementing leading practices in agile software development, but additional actions needed

Why GAO Did This Study

“Many of DHS’s major IT acquisition programs have taken longer than expected to develop or failed to deliver the desired value. In April 2016, to help improve the department’s IT acquisition and management, DHS identified Agile software development as the preferred approach for all of its IT programs and projects.”

“GAO was asked to examine DHS’s adoption of Agile software development. The objective of this review was to assess the extent to which DHS has addressed selected leading practices for its transition to the use of Agile software development…”

What GAO Found

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has taken steps to implement selected leading practices in its transition from waterfall, an approach that historically delivered useable software years after program initiation, to Agile software development, which is focused on incremental and rapid delivery of working software in small segments…”

“DHS has fully addressed one of three leading practice areas for organization change management and partially addressed the other two. Collectively, these practices advise an organization to plan for, implement, and measure the impact when undertaking a significant change. The department has fully defined plans for transitioning to Agile development. DHS has partially addressed implementation—the department completed 134 activities but deferred roughly 34 percent of planned activities to a later date. These deferred activities are in progress or have not been started. With respect to the third practice, DHS clarified expected outcomes for the transition, such as reduced risk of large, expensive IT failures. However, these outcomes are not tied to target measures. Without these, DHS will not know if the transition is achieving its desired results…”

What GAO Recommends

“GAO is making 10 recommendations to DHS to implement selected leading practices for its transition to Agile software development. DHS agreed with GAO’s recommendations and described actions taken and planned to address them.”

Access the full 113-page report here.

Source: Agile Software Development: DHS Has Made Significant Progress in Implementing Leading Practices, but Needs to Take Additional Actions – June 1, 2020. GAO.


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