BY now, we’ve all heard about the agile development process and how, today, an iterative approach to developing/implementing IT programs is in vogue. We’ve also heard all the many complaints about how the Federal acquisition process is too slow to keep up with rapidly changing technology, evolving requirements, etc. We also are aware that any changes to the law, regulations and policy that affect the Federal procurement process may a longer time than we think is necessary.
All this being said, how do we, as acquisition professionals, actually execute our procurements in a more agile manner? I don’t necessarily mean just quicker, but I mean accounting for the rapid and continuous change (some would say chaos) that is an expected part of the agile process. How do we successfully structure our contracts to accommodate rapidly evolving requirements and the possible risk of periodic failure (try-try-again) with a risk-sharing approach that does not place all the risk on either party?
Another community which has not kept pace with agile is the oversight community. How can acquisition professionals structure their agreements to address the needs of agile development and yet not get burned alive on audits or investigations?
As available funds continue to diminish (as they surely will given the Nation’s debt and economy situation) and as the need to adopt procurement approaches that address ever more rapidly changing requirements and technologies, both coupled with an expected continuation of the laser-like focus of oversight organizations on process efficiency and the reduction of the cost of governing, what are your suggestions in regards to agile acquisition?
None of the above is really new. We have grappled with these issues before and will likely do so again in the future. What’s new is the fact that we have many newer professionals in the field that are struggling with these issues today.
I look forward to seeing your comments.