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Update November 2013: SEI has posted a report analysing the legal documents that require Department of Defense to use agile practices. Defense contractors that Scrum Inc. is working with propose Scrum for most new projects. See also DoD CIO comments on agile development.With waterfall failure after failure, even the government has decided to make Agile development a priority. Some people have a hard time believing this but I just want to take you through what happened in one department, the biggest one there is, the Department of Defense. Back in 2009 someone inserted this section into the 2010 Defense Acquisition Bill. These are the rules that the Department must follow when purchasing anything. Here’s the relevant section 804: IMPLEMENTATION OF NEW ACQUISITION PROCESS FOR INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SYSTEMS.

The key language is this:
(2) be designed to include—
(A) early and continual involvement of the user;
(B) multiple, rapidly executed increments or releases of capability;
(C) early, successive prototyping to support an evolutionary approach; and
(D) a modular, open-systems approach.
Basically, for the DoD at least, Agile became the law. Here's the report the DoD returned to congress on how they would go about it:
 
Based on my Scrum briefing at the Pentagon in 2011, DoD introduced this language into their requirements for vendors:
•    Deliver Early and Often: This principle is aimedat changing the culture from one that is focusedtypically on a single deliveryto a new model that comprises multiple deliveries to establishan environment that supports deployedcapabilities every 12 to 18 months.
•    Incremental and Iterative Development and Testing: Thisprinciple embraces the concept that incremental and iterative development and testing, includingthe use of prototyping, yield better outcomesthan trying to deploy large complex IT network systems in one "BigBang."
•    Rationalized Requirements: User involvement is critical to the ultimatesuccess of any IT  implementation, and user needs must be met. However,this principle also recognizes the need for users and requirements developers to embracean enterprise focusacross a portfolio of capabilities with established standards and open modularplatforms vice customized solutions to ensure interoperability and seamless integration.
•    Flexible/Tailored Processes: The Department's IT needs range from modernizing nuclear command and controlsystems to updatingword processing systemson office computers. This principleacknowledges  uniquetypes of IT acquisition and embraces flexible and tailored-and risk-appropriate-IT paths based on the characteristics of the proposed IT acquisition.
And while many DOD departments have not yet come to terms with Agile, this is the language their CIO is using on their modernization plans.

The DoD CIO's 10 Point Plan for IT Modernization targets the most pressing, near-term challenges and presents approaches to efficiently and effectively deliver agile, secure, integrated, and responsive IT capabilities. This plan will enable the DoD to reduce costs and deliver faster, more responsive capabilities, while improving interoperability, user satisfaction, cyber security, and, ultimately, mission success. The primary goal is to enable agile, secure, efficient and effective IT for DoD.

Here's an interesting bullet from a slide deck by the White House CIO, Steven VanRoekel on the administrations 2013 IT budget priorities:

Entrepreneurs in Residence
– Introduce and cultivate innovative best practices and technologies into
the Government
– Assemble agile teams to solve problems using rapid cycle, lean engineering principles

There are other government agencies that have used Scrum to great effect, I know the FBI used it to rescue their Sentinel program from a complete waterfall failure, and I’m sure there are more. Anyone else know of any?

Also, if anyone knows of anybody who wants to take the next step in their career and get trained as a Scrum Master, there are still a few seats left for my July 26-27 course in Boston.

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