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A federal guide to de-risk government technology projects

Today, we’re proud to announce the De-risking Government Technology Field Guide for federal agencies. This field guide provides actionable recommendations to address the common challenges agencies face when adopting agile and user-centered design methodologies. Ultimately, the goal is to help teams reduce risk and improve outcomes for the agency’s end-users.

Each section provides straight-forward recommendations and templates for agency staff to address common pitfalls in planning and implementing modern software development projects. These recommendations include considerations in build-or-buy decisions, how to write a contract for agile software development, what to look for in a high-quality contractor proposal, and meaningful metrics for agile development.

The field guide is written for federal agency cross-functional teams delivering IT services to their users – senior executives, program managers, product owners, senior procurement executives, contracting officers, IT managers, and funding officials.

This work was written by 18F and funded by the Technology Transformation Services’ (TTS) 10x program, housed within GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service. To inform this work our researchers collected information across TTS project work with agencies, researched federal policies and reports, examined lessons learned from failed IT projects, and interviewed agencies to uncover common pain points.

This latest release is a federal complement to the Agile Budgeting & Oversight Guide for State Governments published in 2019. The guide for state governments offers tools and advice on delivering custom technology projects. We documented over a dozen best practices, including budgeting for software as an operational expense, limiting contract size, measuring success iteratively, and hiring in-house tech talent.

Both field guides are available now, online and in PDF format. We will continue to edit and add to this work as we learn more.

If you have questions, suggestions, or any kind of feedback, we’d be happy to hear from you.

If you are interested in working with 18F, get in touch at inquiries18F@gsa.gov.

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