The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition & Sustainment (OUSD(A&S)) has created a series of related tasks in response to Congressional requirements to study and develop policy options and recommendations on how the Department of Defense (DoD) can use agile program and project management concepts in non-software acquisition programs. As part of this effort, Drs. Gregg Vesonder and Nicole Hutchison are leading the development of a report that describes the history of agile processes as viewed by multiple disciplines and industries that documents the agile journey-related experiences of organizations. This task will distill core agile process-related principles from across technical and process domains and industries, and will provide guidance to defense acquisition programs and processes beyond software. The resulting report will define “what good looks like”, the primary indicators of progress, and the steps the DoD might take to expand agile methods across its portfolio.
The task will focus on exploring how the principles of Development and Operations (DevOps) can be used in the DoD. DevOps has made a major difference in software development across the world and most especially in how it is deployed. Part of the approach of DevOps is doing things in small increments: releasing smaller pieces of functional software and testing these thoroughly and automatically. This task will help transition highly successful DevOps work into the DoD framework by looking at how procurement and acquisition is – and can be – done.
When completed and transitioned, the results of this task could have a major impact on DoD acquisitions. “If we can make [the process] more efficient and much more responsive, it would result in higher quality and quicker acquisition of weapon systems,” says Dr. Vesonder. It also could have a positive effect on the DoD industrial base and broader industry. Dr. Vesonder further explained, “This could create virtuous feedback: DoD discovers how to apply DevOps in acquisition and that could be fed back into industry, who could use the lessons learned to address and improve upon unique problems. In DevOps, sharing and iteration are critically important – as you share, you get stronger.”