Adopting this “smaller is better” mindset as a way to overhaul a large, complex legacy system can feel counterintuitive. But the notion of smallness — of distilling complex, interdependent tasks into achievable units of work — is fundamental to building modern software in both the private and public sector.
Monolithic procurement — large, complex, multi-year contracts, which are common in government IT procurement — can appear compelling to agencies that use them. The Technology Transformation Services (TTS) is a strong advocate for an alternative approach known as modular contracting (aka modular procurement).
Our recent work with state government agencies in California and Mississippi provides some powerful examples of how 18F’s commitment to working and learning in the open can provide enormous benefits — even to states that are not yet working directly with 18F.
The State of Mississippi is about to upgrade its child welfare management system, a system used by about 1,800 state employees in 82 counties, supporting the wellbeing of about 5,000 children across the state. The system was built in the early 2000s, and the employees who use it are stymied by an inefficient interface and aging infrastructure.
Through a partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, 18F was able to work with California’s Department of Social Services and Office of Systems Integration on the replacement of California's Child Welfare System. We helped them simplify the contracting documents and incorporate modular contracting, agile development, user-centered design, and open source practices into their project.