In a new report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) broke down policy context and considerations to implementing agile for Federal IT programs.

“Agile software development has the potential to save the Federal government billions of dollars and significant time, allowing agencies to deliver software more efficiently and effectively for American taxpayers,” GAO wrote. “However, the transition to agile requires an investment in new tools and processes, which can be costly and time consuming.”

In this new report, GAO outlines what agile is, how it works, and how mature it is. Additionally, it notes that FITARA including a provision for the Office of Management and Budget that requires CIOs of the covered agencies to “certify that IT investments are adequately implementing incremental development.” This development, according to the report, results in more agencies adopting incremental, agile approaches to software development.

Among opportunities for agile adoption include: flexibility when customers’ need change; risk reduction by measuring progress during frequent iterations; and quick deliveries as incremental releases allow agencies to determine whether new software is meeting their needs.

GAO points out that agile development isn’t without challenges for the Federal government. Among those challenges include: a lack of organizational commitment; resources needed to transition to agile; mistrust in iterative solutions; and misaligned agency practices.

To ensure agencies are meeting agile standards, agencies can use a recently released GAO draft publication of a new agile development guide and are seeking feedback on it. Through the guidance, GAO synthesized “best practices and lessons learned on the execution of an agile methodology.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.