Accession Number:



Agile Software Development in the Department of Defense Environment

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report,25 Jul 2016,29 Mar 2017

Corporate Author:

Defense Acquisition University, Senior Service College Fellowship Program Aberdeen Proving Ground United States

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Many Department of Defense DoD information technology IT programs are plagued by immense bureaucracy, seemingly endless documentation, cost overruns, and poorly defined requirements that cause considerable delays in getting needed capabilities to the field. To facilitate the more efficient and timely delivery of capabilities to the warfighter, the DoD has emphasized finding ways to improve the acquisition of capabilities for the warfighter. One strategy is Agile software development. DoDs interest in Agile prompted policy updates and initiatives such as Better Buying Power that accentuate innovation, speed, and elimination of bureaucratic processes. However, lack of agility is still identified today as a persistent issue. This study examined the DoD acquisition framework to determine the extent to which it facilitates or hinders Agile IT software development. The qualitative investigation included a historical review of literature from industry and government. The review revealed six areas specific to the DoD acquisition process that presented challenges and constraints acquisition oversight, contracting, cost estimation, information assurance, program cost and performance monitoring, and requirements management. Additionally, culture was highlighted by the Software Engineering Institute and others as a principal barrier to adopting Agile in the DoD. Agile should not be considered a blanket solution for all DoD IT programs. However, as MITRE asserted, it is a viable option for programs able to streamline their organizational structures to accommodate a process that emphasizes smaller, more frequent capability releases.

Subject Categories:

  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies
  • Computer Programming and Software

Distribution Statement: