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Agile Delivery Services Marketplace

Streamlining the procurement of custom software solutions.

Summary

The Agile Delivery Services Marketplace is a federal-wide, pre-vetted pool of software development vendors who practice agile the right way.

An abstract image representing a marketplace of agile vendors.

The challenge

Following the Healthcare.gov launch failure, federal agencies started looking more and more toward agile as an alternative method to waterfall for delivering custom software solutions. Finding a vendor who excelled at agile, however, was difficult. And even if agencies could find one, traditional methods of contracting often fell short of: (a) revealing the makers from the fakers; (b) protecting the government's data and source-code ownership rights to prevent vendor lock-in; and (c) acquiring services at the speed of need.

The solution

To address these challenges, Chris Cairns, Robert Read, and other team members within the General Services Administration created the first-ever, federal-wide contract vehicle of vendors who specialize in agile delivery services (for example, user-centered design, agile software development, DevOps) using several groundbreaking approaches:

  • A "show, don't tell" or "prototype-as-proposal" approach in which vendors were required to submit working prototypes (over written narratives) using openFDA as the basis for evaluating capabilities
  • A robust contractual clause that, by default, requires all vendors to agree to commit all data, source code, and documentation produced for the government to the public domain
  • Combination of a blanket purchase agreement contract type under IT Schedule 70, ready-made assets (for example, solicitation templates), performance work statements, oral presentations, and other methods for rapidly issuing and awarding task/work orders

The results

Thus far, notable results include:

  • Attracted over 700 attendees to industry outreach events
  • Received over 200 proposal submissions, all delivered via public GitHub repos
  • Completed technical evaluation of all proposals within weeks by only 3 people
  • Issued awards to 17 vendors
  • Soundness of evaluation methodology withstood 8 protests
  • Heralded by industry, Congress, and the White House's Office of Management and Budget as a model for agencies to follow
  • Inspired several federal and state & local agencies (for example, Department of Homeland Security, Environmental Protection Agency, State of California, State of Mississippi) to create a similar marketplace
  • Used by nearly a dozen federal agencies who are experiencing improved contractual outcomes