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Behind the Buy #6: Managing and Delivering Digital Services for Agile Software Development

In this 6th episode of Behind the Buy, OFPP Administrator Anne Rung and 18F Consulting’s Dave Zvenyach discuss the agile approach to software procurement and development.

Author’s Note: The "Behind the Buy" podcast features audio stories told by members of the Federal acquisition workforce who have successfully executed best practice IT contracting strategies from the TechFAR and Digital Services Playbook to help their agency meet its mission.

In the 6th episode of Behind the Buy, OFPP Administrator Anne Rung interviews Dave Zvenyach, former General Counsel to the Council of the District of Columbia and now a highly accomplished “full stack” developer and Director of Acquisition Management for the U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) 18F Consulting. The GSA’s 18F Consulting team provides hands-on consulting services to Federal leaders and helps Federal agencies use modern approaches to manage, procure, and deliver complex IT services. Dave’s legal and technical expertise and his time spent in government give him unique insight into acquisition challenges in the IT space.

In this episode, Dave discusses the agile approach to software procurement and development. He highlights Play #5 of the Digital Services Playbook, which makes recommendations for how to structure processes and budgets to ensure successful delivery. The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) supports the iterative processes prescribed by agile and the TechFAR provides support on how to navigate those parts of the FAR.

IT services and contracts should be structured in such a way that requirements are “grown” or developed as development proceeds. This allows for maximum flexibility and prevents premature optimization of system requirements that may not actually be necessary for the user. It is important to make sure requirements are developed with an eye toward user experience.  User experience should help guide every stage of the process and should be tested on an iterative basis (e.g. every two weeks instead of every six months or a year). This allows the Federal Government to focus on what it actually needs and not what the Federal Government thinks it needs.

Dave also addresses topics such as how to structure requirements, the use of open-source software, user-centered design strategies, and ensuring proper communication and management of vendors and teams to successfully deliver digital services.

Check out episode #6 of Behind the Buy to learn more.

Listen Here

  • The Digital Services Playbook outlines key "plays" drawn from private and public-sector best practices to help Federal agencies deliver services that work well for users and require less time and money to develop and operate.
  • The TechFAR Handbook explains how agencies can execute key plays in the Playbook in ways consistent with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which governs how the Government buys goods and services from the private sector.

About Behind the Buy:

To share best practices from tools like the Playbook and TechFAR, members of the Federal acquisition community recommended we use more innovative communication channels. The workforce wanted an interactive way to send and receive solutions that enhance the value of IT procurements for customers and taxpayers.  Those suggestions led to the creation of the Behind the Buy audio series, or podcast, a human-centered design approach that allows procurement and program offices to listen and learn about innovative IT contracting strategies while carrying on their daily work responsibilities.

Both the Playbook and TechFAR are edited on GitHub, where they serve as living documents that can be shared and shaped by digital experts across the country.  If you have a “Playbook or TechFAR-related” experience, let us know! We’d like to hear about your success story and take the Federal community Behind the Buy

Anne Rung is the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget.