How USCIS used Agile to fix a broken system

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration ServicesCIO Mark Schwartz faced a formidable challenge in giving the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service a fresh start for their out-of-date application process. An attempt in 2012 by the agency to move to an electronic case management system was a failure, based on a CMS that was outdated by the time of deployment. Schartz took the reins and steered USCIS toward Agile methods of acquisition and development, also moving to open source technology to reduce infrastructure costs and increase flexibility.

From the article:

The first thing CIO Mark Schwartz and Kathleen Stanley, the chief of the Office of Transformation Coordination at USCIS, did was move to agile development, with agency staff taking on the role of systems integrator.  “We moved from one contractor to many contractors; it was a huge change in the acquisition strategy for us,” Stanley said in an interview.

“By using an agile approach we put the contractors in a position where they have to keep delivering finished work to us every week,” Schwartz said, rather than relying on a lengthy development cycle. “We have our people working with them side by side and that keeps the pressure on them to perform.”

USCIS also simplified the architecture for the electronic immigration system by relying on open source technology. Developers with expertise in Java, Oracle, Spring, JPA/Hibernate, MongoDB and Drools were hired to break up the system into parts and spur competition and innovation. The change in the technology suite allowed the team to more effectively implement the agile development approach.

Read the full article: How USCIS went Agile and open to move application process online | GCN

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