White House releases modular IT development guide

2011_09_thewhitehouseThe White House released a new guide encouraging agencies to shift away from larger multi-year information technology projects to a more nimble approach.

The guide, “Contracting Guidance to Support Modular IT Development,” released by U.S. Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel and Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Joseph Jordan, provides IT, acquisition, finance and program offices practices for how they can break investments into more manageable chunks, eliminate the lag between requirements and quickly create solutions.

“By requiring frequent deliverables, agencies will also be better able to hold contractors accountable for keeping projects on track and delivering solutions that truly meet agency needs,” the two said in a post on the White House blog. “And by breaking investments into smaller chunks, agencies may be able to drive more competition – including small businesses that might not have been equipped to compete for the massive, multi-year projects of the past. And more competition means a better value for the American people.”

The policy builds on those established in the Clinger-Cohen Act, laying out key investment principles to facilitate modular IT development. It then discusses acquisition strategies that are best suited to support the high level of responsiveness that agencies need for modular development. This includes the smart use of contracts where orders are placed as needs arise with short time periods to fulfill specific project development needs within six month intervals, as well as rapid response activities in 90 day periods.


“Our goal is to see many examples of success across the government and we are asking all agencies to assess and adjust their capital planning and investment control and acquisition process to more explicitly incorporate modular approaches,” VanRoekel and Jordan said. “Over the coming weeks, we will work with the agencies that already have had success to meet with other agencies and share their insight. We will also review agency progress as part of OMB Portfolio investment reviews (“PortfolioStats”) and acquisition reviews of systemic strengthens and weaknesses (“AcqStats”).”

Contracting Guidance to Support Modular Development

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