The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is seeking feedback on its new agile development guide following the release of the draft publication today.

As a part of its efforts to oversee Fed IT investments, GAO has been reviewing agency efforts to implement agile software development. Now, through the Agile Assessment Guide, GAO is synthesizing best practices and lessons learned on the execution of an agile methodology. “With its emphasis on early and continuous delivery of working software, agile can be a valuable tool for organizations in helping to mitigate schedule and budget risks,” the agency asserted about the usefulness of an agile method.

According to GAO, the primary audience for this new guide is Federal auditors who will use the best practices described in the guide to assess whether agencies are meeting agile standards. Practitioners, program offices, and governance bodies, GAO continues, will also benefit from the guide to better understand how to implement agile practices.

Federal agencies already adopting agile practices have reported to GAO trouble transitioning as teams are pushed to collaborate rather than work independently. The Federal workforce has also struggled to adapt to the quick pace of iterative development and officials reported a mistrust in new solutions. Agencies like the Office of Management and Budget, the General Services Administration, and U.S. Digital Services have all stepped up to address some of these challenges, and through the new guide GAO hopes to maintain those efforts.

The Agile Assessment Guide outlines an overview of agile execution, requirements for managing an agile environment, how agile aligns with the Federal contracting process, metrics to measure agile effectiveness, and other practices. GAO is accepting feedback on the exposure draft through September 2021.

Leading up to this guide, GAO has released agency-specific reviews of agile implementation. At the Department of Homeland Security, GAO found that about one-third (34 percent) of its planned agile activities have been deferred to a later start date and made several recommendations to the CIO. GAO also applauded the Social Security Administration’s pivot to agile, but wrote that more clarity around personnel roles is an agile environment is needed.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.