The U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General released a report with recommendations on the Patent and Trademark Office’s IT modernization progress including its Agile work.
We performed a comprehensive review of Agile development methodologies and software development practices in the PE2E and TMNG portfolios. Overall, we found that USPTO’s implementation of the Agile development methodology is maturing, but improvements are needed, specifically in the management of user stories—which are brief descriptions of features—and defects. We also found that improvements in software development practices are necessary, including more robust automated and performance testing and testing integration, consideration of IT security controls earlier in development, and better conformance with USPTO coding standards.
We recommend that the USPTO Director
1. fully implement unsatisfied recommendations from our 2011 audit by prioritizing all user stories at the portfolio level, and by developing a high-level model of reusable services for the entire portfolio;
2. identify and implement methods to increase adoption and monitor usage of the PE2E examination tools prior to deployment to the full patent corps;
3. fully define and estimate user stories as well as improve scheduling and estimation of defects;
4. develop and implement a plan to conduct more robust automated testing, earlier integration of functional quality testing (FQT) testers, and performance testing more representative of the production environment; and
5. develop and implement a plan to integrate IT security controls earlier in design and development activities and better align automated code reviews with USPTO coding standards.
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