Research Reports

Agile Acquisition: History and Recommendations

June 2023

October 2022

AUTHORS:  Dr. Gregg Vesonder, Dr. Nicole Hutchison

Agile development along with DevSecOps can accelerate acquisition and improve relevance. While industry has successfully applied Agile and DevSecOps to software, hardware, and inter-reliant hardware/software systems, the DoD has lacked applying Agile and DevSecOps beyond software development. Systems are increasingly reliant on tightly integrated hardware/software systems. Software is often completed ahead of hardware, and system integration and testing require access to developed hardware. This causes delays, late and costly problem discovery, aging software, and disconnects in ownership and sustainment.

Much DoD software is deployed on special-purpose hardware platforms, so there is a prevailing view that Agile does not apply or is too difficult to implement in weapon systems that are deployed in harm’s way. There is also a gap in general knowledge of how to apply these techniques beyond software, sparse organizational support, and little explicit policy directing their use.

This report devises ways for the DoD to leverage the potential of Agile and DevSecOps for both hardware and software, including to integrate Agile and DevSecOps initiatives with digital transformation; pursue agility in contracting, requirements, and funding; and address cultural and risk barriers through leadership and incentives.