Forbes reports that in a keynote presentation for the Agile in Government: Mutual Adaptation conference, Roger Baker discussed the adoption of Agile into federal policies and procedures, drawing on his past experiences as assistant secretary of information and technology at the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs. According to Forbes, Baker described the traditional waterfall approach as “insanity” and explained how the VA gradually came to realize the value of Agile processes when several projects were completed with great success.

From the article:

[W]aterfall is notorious for how rarely it delivers positive outcomes, especially at the federal government. Before shifting to Agile and other incremental approaches, the VA was able to achieve a paltry 30% success rate on its IT projects. After they got up to speed with the new approach, their success rate topped 80%.

. . .

Baker’s account of the Post-9/11 GI Bill is particularly telling. “Because they can use IT [information technology] now,” Baker said, “Congress figured they’d put a really complex bill together.” In fact, during his confirmation as assistant secretary for IT, the Senate confirmation committee unanimously predicted failure of the project. After all, “the VA really sucked at developing IT systems at that time,” Baker admits.

What the Senate committee didn’t realize, however, was that the VA would implement the new GI bill using Agile. As a result, “with the new system, we put a million kids into school on time,” according to Baker.

This dramatic turnaround – especially at an agency dogged by so many other issues – unleashed incredulity across the government, specifically at the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), an internal government watchdog agency.

. . .

As for the prospects of Agile broadly, [Baker] is predictably sanguine. “I don’t believe that Agile is the solution for everything,” Baker espouses, “but I also don’t believe waterfall is the solution for anything.”

Read the full article: Dispelling The Myths Of Agile | Forbes