DevOps and IV&V at the General Services Administration

Summary

The General Services Administration’s (GSA) Integrated Award Environment (IAE) is one of the largest federal e-government initiatives for the transaction of federal financial assistance, contracts and other awards (known collectively as SAM.gov). It plays a critical role in GSA’s handling of more than \$1 trillion in transactions annually and drives web traffic in the hundreds of thousands to its component pages each month.

GCIO acted as the independent integration and validation team (IV&V), providing both Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) support for all products as well as validation to provide the highest possible quality functionality and 508 compliance.

Insights

GovernmentCIO led the DevSecOps vision, governance, tool selection and stand-up of automated testing across the enterprise to achieve predictable, repeatable results against expected outcomes. It also led the transformation from manual to automated testing. The automated testing provided immediate value to IAE in detecting defects, exposing unsatisfied user criteria, discovering system anomalies, identifying operational errors and diagnosing failures.

Our solution

GCIO’s expanded its role to an independent trusted advisor and thought leader for the IAE technical and business leadership. In this role, GCIO:

  • provided regular program assessment and risk identification reports.
  • created an automated testing framework sharing it across the program.
  • developed a CI/CD pipeline requirements document.
  • produced a CI/CD reference implementation.
  • participated in multiple functional and technical working groups.
  • developed metrics and KPIs to support measurement and continuous improvement.
  • established best practices and standards for development, testing, delivery and operational support.
  • participated in product release meetings and SAFe ceremonies including Product Increment planning sessions.
  • identified and developed defect and capacity metrics to provide transparency to GSA leadership in monitoring the success of development.
  • developed 508 compliance approach, identified best tools and processes for testing, trained the coding team to increase compliance.
  • identified and educated IAE management on the issues related to the management of technical debt.

GCIO successfully fulfilled its initial role in testing and validating functionality, helping to ensure product quality and delivery. In its expanded role as a trusted advisor and thought leader, GCIO not only provided technical guidance and mentoring but changed the program’s overall mindset towards product quality, delivering customer value and practicing continuous improvement through measuring and monitoring.

Results

GCIO introduced automated testing and was instrumental in its use and adoption throughout the IAE program. It created a testing framework to accelerate the creation and standardization of these automated tests, which lead to significantly more testing and higher-quality tests. The thought leadership drove the implementation of a more functional CI/CD pipeline, resulting in the increase in software quality and delivery velocity and the reduction in deployment failures and defect leaks into higher environments. KPIs and metrics allowed IAE management to better measure and understand and identify bottlenecks, streamline processes and begin truly practicing continuous improvement.

The overarching program assessments GCIO performed illuminated issues and their risks to IAE management, allowing them to better prioritize activities and resources in order to address these issues and mitigate the associated risk, such as definition and identification of significant technical debt encouraged IAE management to specifically incorporate the management and mitigation of technical debt into its backlog.

GCIO’s thought leadership was a significant factor in increasing the maturity level of the IAE program resulting in a higher quality product and increased confidence in deploying the product to the end user.