Making USASpending.gov Agile and Open Source

Making USASpending.gov Agile and Open Source
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On-Time Open Disruption Delivery

The first capability we developed and tested by our agile method is called the DATA Act Broker. Using a TurboTax-style automated wizard, it’s currently helping agency financial officers standardize their spending data and upload it to the cloud for the public to access.

A similar waterfall method project took more than 4 years to create and is still going through additional required development to accomplish its goals. We launched the Broker in just 6 months, and it’s exceeding expectations. 

Throughout the implementation, we’ve maintained a level of transparency that’s nearly unheard of in the government IT realm. For example:

  • GitHub is used to share processes and workstreams
  • JIRA, our agile project management tool, is publicly accessible, allowing anyone a near real-time look into our current sprint cycle
  • Code is shared on code.gov, where people from all over the world can play around with it and identify possible improvements.

And we held a hackathon at our DC Innovation Center, inviting coders and data scientists to propose and test new and better ways to analyze and visualize the spending information that’s come in through the Broker. 

21st century UX/UI is vital for a seamless digital experience. Watch this video to learn how we integrated high-quality user experience design into the development and rollout of the 2014 DATA Act.

A Model for the Future

By combining radical transparency, Agile workflows, and continuous delivery, we’re on track to achieve the DATA Act implementation’s goals on schedule, and in a way that incorporates ongoing feedback from over two dozen agencies and the general public. We’re giving interested Americans a better understanding of federal spending than they’ve ever had before, and demonstrating that agile development principles can be successfully applied to projects that span nearly the entire government. 

This is the model for how government IT work can and should done in the future. For now it’s called Open Disruption. Someday, it may just be the norm.  

Experts in the Field