###Agile Delivery Services BPA - A Different Kind of Proposal

Earlier this week, the General Services Administration issued the long-awaited Agile Delivery Services BPA Request for Quotations. True to their word, our friends at GSA 18F issued an RFQ that was different….. refreshingly different. Working in Federal contracting for the last 20 years, I’m accustomed to writing lengthy technical and management volumes and going through reviews with green teams, red teams, pink teams, and more editing sessions than I care to remember trying to get our volumes to “blue” (traditional proposals are a real rainbow of fun!). But all those hard working, hand wringing, and late night sessions drive towards to one objective…. putting the best written proposal in front of the Government to win the work.

Unfortunately, a well-written proposal has little correlation with the Government’s ultimate objective, which is hiring the right contractor to help them deliver a successful program. That’s where the Agile Delivery Services BPA is trying to shake things up. They don’t care what we’ve done in the past (there is literally no past performance component), and the don’t care too much about what we can put on paper (there is virtually no written submission). What they do care about is what we can build….. now….. fast. The technical approach consists of a working prototype, and the team at 18F is going to evaluate that submitted prototype to determine which companies will be awarded BPAs. I’ve worked on proposals where a working technical demonstration is required, but those generally involved showing how we met an exhaustive list of functional and technical requirements. The Agile Delivery Services working prototype is different in that there are no published requirements. Only guidelines that we need to follow to demonstrate our understanding of Agile development principles, and our use of open technologies.

So the team at 540.co has been working with our prime contractor, M-Cubed Information Systems, to deliver on this challenge. And it’s been a ton of fun. One of the great things about this challenge is its open-endedness. We’re left to get creative, using datasets from open.FDA.gov, to deliver a capability that we get to define. After a round of brainstorming with our product owner on Wednesday night, we made defined our minimum viable product and haven’t looked back. We’re still enjoying late nights and lots of colorful discussion, but this process is allowing our team to exercise our knowledge and creativity to build something really cool. And something we will all be really proud of. We’re adhering to Agile principles, and keeping our efforts well publicized in the spirit of open Government. You can follow us on Twitter @540co and track our progress in the 540co ADS GitHub repository. We’ve even done some live streaming of our sessions using Meerkat and Periscope. That’s certainly a far cry from old-government proposal days locked in a basement vault trying to get a management volume under a 50 page limit.

I’ll take the 18F way every time!

Check out the latest Tweets on #18FAgileBPA. Read what people are saying and join the conversation.