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Wednesday, August 5 • 10:45 - 12:00
How DevOps Will Fix Government IT: Agility in a Low Trust Environment (Mark Schwartz)

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We all know that agility requires trust, but the government is an extreme example of a low trust environment. We all know that agile approaches focus on maximizing business value delivered, but the definition of business value for a government is not at all clear. We all know that Lean approaches work to remove waste, but the government is designed around heavyweight processes that we know as red tape. Lean, agile IT seems like an impossible fit with a government environment.
Or - perhaps - the government is a perfect laboratory for pushing the boundaries of the agile approach and working on its most difficult issues.
I contend that every organization has a unique set of needs. The government's special needs result from its constant exposure to the cynical public eye, its complex oversight structure based on a system of checks and balances, and its foundations in a rule-based system to ensure accountability to the public. An IT project must meet these "business needs" in addition to any product-specific business needs - and the best way to meet business needs is to empower self-organizing teams to find the best way to do so. In other words, agile teams can self-organize to meet the deep needs of the bureaucracy, in addition to meeting any product-specific business needs.
At US Citizenship and Immigration Services, we have found that a DevOps framework, properly applied, can be a perfect way to meet the government's deeper needs. For example, scripted deployments can make it easier to change development contractors, which makes the government procurement system more open and more fair. By turning compliance requirements into automated tests, a DevOps team can make it clear to oversight bodies that it is fully compliant; by making metrics transparent across the entire delivery process, from development through production, DevOps can support the government's oversight processes. A DevOps-based security model can be made consistent with the government's new focus on Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation. DevOps can help us make government IT lean - while at the same time supporting the government's needs for oversight, transparency, and accountability to the public.
At USCIS we have taken an agile approach to our agile adoption - self organizing to meet the needs of the bureaucracy in a way that is lean and delivers value.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Applying agile approaches in a low-trust environment; using DevOps to meet needs of compliance and oversight; maximizing learning about deep organizational needs, not just product needs.

avatar for Mark Schwartz

Mark Schwartz

Enterprise Strategist, AWS
Learn from Mark Schwartz, author of The (Delicate) Art of Bureaucracy.As an Enterprise Strategist for Amazon Web Services, Mark Schwartz uses his extensive CIO wisdom to advise the world’s largest companies on the obvious: time to move to the cloud, guys. As the CIO of US Citizenship... Read More →

Wednesday August 5, 2015 10:45 - 12:00 EDT
National Harbor 12