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Agile Acquisition Framework

Aligning acquisition practices with agile delivery practices.

Summary

The Agile Acquisition Framework is a comprehensive framework for helping government program teams make the paradigm shift from decades-old acquisition practices based on waterfall to modern acquisition practices based on agile, resulting in faster delivery of value, higher quality, and lower costs.

An abstract image of a Venn diagram showing the intersection between acquisition and agile.

The challenge

Government program teams needed a completely new management model for making the leap from traditional to agile acquisition practices, but no such proven model existed.

The solution

To address this need, Chris Cairns and Robert Read, as members of 18F, pioneered the Agile Acquisition Framework, the government's first full-lifecycle approach for executing agile acquisitions.

Starting with an initial version, Chris and Robert iteratively refined the framework through first-hand experience helping multiple acquisition programs adopt it successfully.

The framework's design uniquely combines proven practices from multiple disciplines — such as user-centered design, lean startup, agile development, agile project management, evolutionary architecture, open source, performance-based contracting, and modular contracting — into a unified approach.

To scale the framework's adoption across government, Chris and Robert provided training and coaching assistance to over a dozen professionals, who went on to apply it successfully to their own acquisition programs.

The results

Thus far, notable results include:

  • Adopted by over a dozen federal and state & local programs whose contracted efforts are consistently experiencing the full benefits of agile, including Treasury's Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act), Department of Defense's Military OneSource, Social Security Administration's Disability Claims Processing System, Environmental Protection Agency's Electronic Manifest System, Navy's Ready-2-Serve, and State of California's Child Welfare System
  • Contributed to the avoidance of hundreds of millions of dollars in unnecessary technology acquisition costs