The Homeland Security Department is making progress on its effort to buy technology in a more "agile" way, splitting large projects into smaller development chunks.
DHS is in the early stages of building a new contracting system that would pre-select vendors -- those skilled in agile software development and design -- to be part of a blanket purchase agreement. The department is planning an industry day June 29 in Washington, during which interested vendors can learn more about Flexible Agile Support for the Homeland, or FLASH.
DHS is following the example set by the General Services Administration, whose tech team 18F last year awarded 17 vendors spots on its own agile blanket purchase agreement. GSA recently made its first task order to one business on the BPA, now responsible for beta-launching a dashboard for the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP.
GSA's BPA had previously been halted at least twice by protests from vendors who didn’t make the list.
FLASH aims to promote teams that can develop products quickly, but to also create a “better user experience,” DHS' original solicitation says. Contractors selected would include product managers, designers, engineers and developers.
The program is meant to be a sort of pilot, DHS Chief Information Officer Luke McCormick said at a panel hosted by AFCEA in Washington on Wednesday. DHS has been clear with oversight groups, including in Congress and the Government Accountability Office, that “we are learning here … as we go,” he said. “We’re going to put FLASH out there … and will probably have a flash 2.0.”
The industry day will feature “speed-dating” that could help potential contractors find other development teams to work with, Mike Palmer, part of DHS’ Digital Services team, said during that panel.