VA Says Agile Development A Success

For the first time ever, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) used agile development and subsequently declared it a success. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) came to a different conclusion than the VA, and saw needed improvement.

Agile development is an idea stressing the stepped growth of software on a fast and constant pace while retaining functionality as well as strong cooperation between the programmers and the users. In October 2008, the VA utilized this philosophy as they developed a $207 million automated system. The system would be used to process veteran education claims as they began to use their benefits from the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

A recent GAO report undercuts the VA’s announced success, however. After deploying 2 of 4 systems, the GAO report found vital tasks were not done on time. This may force the VA to postpone a 5th system’s release or put that release under a completely different undertaking, which will likely affect the systems’ functionality. The VA failed to anticipate the difficulty of converting then-present data into the new systems, and the interface between the systems was therefore never completed. Some of the VA’s online services set for a December release will not happen.

One of the GAO’s main criticisms was that separate teams of developers were operating under different standards that needed to be met in order for their work to be released. Consequently, some work had been declared ready for release without ever having undergone any testing. The VA countered by saying it is likely that many GAO investigators were not familiar enough with agile development and did not understand at what they were investigating nor did they understand their testing concepts.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.