The NDIA (National Defense Industry Association) Information Systems Summit II is being held in Baltimore April 4-6, 2011. For those not familiar with this organization, it is an industry group with members from industry and the government - both DoD and other agencies using Earned Value. NDIA writes "guidelines" for Integrated Baseline Review (IBR), the "Intent" of the 32 ANSI-748-B Earned Value Management criteria, the updated MIL-STD-881C Work Breakdown Structure standard and many other documents, policies, and guideline in a variety of defense domains.
The Information Systems Summit this year is focusing on "agile." The motivation for this topic comes from the National Defense Authorization Act § 804, titled IMPLEMENTATION OF NEW ACQUISITION PROCESS FOR INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SYSTEMS.
This section states (a) The Secretary of Defense shall develop and implement a new acquisition process for information technology systems. The acquisition process developed and implemented pursuant to this subsection shall, to the extent determined appropriate by the Secretary--(1) be based on the recommendations in chapter 6 of the March 2009 report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Department of Defense Policies and Procedures for the Acquisition of Information Technology; and (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.
There are all the agile development speakers from the named agile development firms, all talking about Scrum, software development methods, and the training, coaching, and tools needed to develop code using Agile.
One slight little glotch in all this is the presence of several Federal Regulations for procurement programs in the Department of Defense.
Earned Value Management is Mandated
For programs larger than $20M Earned Value is mandated. For programs larger than $50M a Validated Earned Value Management System (EVMS) is mandated. The directives for these are:
- FAR 34.201 - which states An Earned Value Management System (EVMS) is required for major acquisitions for development, in accordance with OMB Circular A-11.
- DFAR 252.234–7002 - which states In the performance of this contract, the Contractor shall use— (1) An Earned Value Management System (EVMS) that complies with the EVMS guidelines in the American National Standards Institute/Electronic Industries Alliance Standard 748, Earned Value Management Systems (ANSI/EIA-748); and (2) Management procedures that provide for generation of timely, reliable, and verifiable information for the Contract Performance Report (CPR) and the Integrated Master Schedule (IMS) required by the CPR and IMS data items of this contract.
So Now What?
With all the speakers speaking about agile development, the program management of these programs, and the FAR/DFAR compliance is a topic that needs to be addressed. Since many times, DoD is spending money of acquisition for IT programs greater than $20M the connecting between Agile and Earned Value must be addressed.
What this means is that the principles of agile are now coming in contact with the reality of software development in the United States Department of Defense. An organization that historically has not been kind to "free thinking" emergent, personalized, rogue, feral, self proclaimed thought leaders. This is now the "show" as the farm team baseball player call it - the BIG TIME.
The Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) and the Defense Contract Audit Agency will have somethings to say about this. Not from the software development methods, but from the Earned Value, Cost Accounting, Subcontracting, and Contract Performance Reporting requirements for these "agile software development contracts."
In Preparation For Agile IT Defense Programs
The challenge here is to "connect the dots" between Agile and Earned Value in a way to allows both to work, both to provide their benefits to the program, and the DoD to be compliant with the FAR, DFAR, and other government regulations.
Here's a starting point that will be further developed for ISS in April.
- Earned value comes in contact with software developemnt methods that produce periodic measurable value in ways not found in tradition development
- Agile comes in contact with program performance management method that have proven not only useful but necessary for the success of large acquisition.
Earned Value Management + Agile Software Development = IT Program Success