I have written quite a bit recently about my longstanding passion for improving the way government procures technology and manages technology projects. The administration has taken many significant steps toward that goal, and I have played a small role in the process to this point.

But that role is about to get a lot bigger.

As I wrote before, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)—the largest office within the Executive Office of the President of the United States— challenged us to improve how government “builds and buys digital services.” This Digital Service Contracting Professional Training and Development Program Challenge had three phases:

  • Phase I: White paper describing the concept for a training and development program for federal acquisition professionals
  • Phase II: Documentation detailing the program design, oral presentation, and mock classroom training to a panel of senior federal leaders
  • Phase III: Pilot for the program delivered to a cohort of ~30 students over several months

Vidya was part of the team that won this challenge.

We partnered with ASI Government to complement their government acquisition expertise with our expertise in technology and the art of software engineering to provide a unique, adaptive curriculum designed to meet the needs of a diverse cohort. At the heart of our approach is what we call “agile learning.” 60% of the curriculum is fixed, but the remaining 40% is adapted to the needs of the students as identified with a pre-assessment and to whatever course corrections may be necessary over the course of the six releases.

I will have input into all the releases—including the capstone in Release 6, but I will be the lead for Release 5, which introduces technology concepts like APIs and cloud computing along with software engineering concepts like version control and agile software development. However, the goal isn’t to turn government acquisition professionals into the cast of The Big Bang Theory. The goal is to provide these professionals with just enough knowledge of technology and software engineering to know what they’re buying and therefore design contracts in such a way as to motivate vendors to provide tangible, measurable value every day. Hopefully also the students will serve as evangelists upon returning to their agencies so they can disseminate the principles in our curriculum among their peers in government.

This is kind of a big deal. The curriculum we are developing with our partners for the Phase III pilot will revolutionize government contracting and yield unprecedented value for American taxpayers. But it won’t be easy. The pilot is already well underway, and the team will continue to work very hard to deliver on this promise. Many challenges lie ahead.

Still, I want to take stock and savor this opportunity. It feels so great to win.