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Survey: Government Still Has a Ways to Go in Adopting Agile

Initial findings from an Accenture survey show how far along government IT is in adopting agile approaches.

Agile development methodologies — which emphasize iteration and flexibility over holistic delivery — are making their way into government technology. But government still has a lot to change.

That reality was reflected in initial findings Accenture released during the 2017 NASCIO Midyear conference in Arlington, Va., on April 24. The survey included responses from 53 CIOs and other officials in 32 states and found that, even among agencies that use agile approaches, most haven’t been doing it for very long and don’t use it all that often.

Only 31 percent of respondents said they had been using agile methods for more than three years. The bulk of respondents — 59 percent — said they take an agile approach on 1 percent to 20 percent of their projects.

Additionally, the survey found that state IT offices don’t have many workers trained in agile methods. Most said that a lack of training is one of the biggest barriers standing in the way of agile.

That may be something of a chicken-and-egg problem, as it turns out. At the conference, Nebraska CIO Ed Toner told Government Technology about how using agile methods might actually serve as a way to attract more young people into government IT.

The use of agile methods also holds some potential to disrupt traditional tech procurement, resulting in IT buying that works faster, adapts to challenges more quickly and might even cut down on costs.

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Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.