New DevOps working group will include officials from agencies like IRS

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The Advanced Technology Academic Research Center wants federal officials to engage with industry more regularly on DevOps practices through a new working group it’s launching on Jan. 23.

DevOps merges software development with operations for rapid, continuous deployment of new services and features, and officials already discuss best practices within the DevOps Federal Interagency Council (DFIC). That group will be a government sponsor for the ATARC working group.

The DFIC was started by the IRS, which uses DevOps as a big part of its information technology modernization effort.

“They just have tremendous leadership,” Tom Suder, founder and president of ATARC, said of the agency. “We want to align with them.”

DFIC holds a topical call about once a quarter, and many of its members attended ATARC’s spring DevOps Summit.

But it wasn’t until ATARC held a forum on the IRS’s use of container technology on Oct. 30 with more than 200 attendees — about 60 from the IRS alone — that Suder said he “knew we were onto something.

“Once we did that event, then the floodgates opened,” Suder said. “Yes, we need to have cross-agency collaboration.”

ATARC, a nonprofit, is known for its working groups uniting civilian, defense and occasionally intelligence agencies for ongoing discussions with industry leaders in cloud, data and analytics, mobile and security.

Annette Mitchell, IRS DFIC initiative lead, will co-chair the DevOps Working Group along with Nicolas Chaillan, Air Force chief software officer and Department of Defense Enterprise DevSecOps Initiative co-lead, and Army Maj. Gen. Garrett Yee.

Initial subcategories and leaders have also been outlined within the working group:

Lessons Learned/Agile Philosophy
Brian Fox, 18F strategist

Emerging Technology
Lon Gowen, U.S. Agency for International Development chief technologist

DevSecOps – Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) Pipeline
Rajeev Dolas, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office senior IT executive
John Soscia, IRS CI/CD initiative manager
John Morello, Palo Alto Networks vice president of product

Application Development
Jack Wayman, Army integration improvement initiatives director
Ravyn Manuel, SI DevOps engineer
Pankaj Sharma, Rigil Corporation chief operating officer

Metrics
Chazara Clark-Smith, IRS IT program manager

Human-Centered Design
Paul Tibbits, Veterans Affairs Office of Technical Integration executive director

Containerization
Christopher Weaver, IRS IT specialist

Low-Code/No-Code
To be determined

“We’ve got the big picture, and then we really attack these areas,” Suder said.

Subcategories will meet in person or virtually to determine their “deliverable,” whether that’s a panel in D.C. or a playbook, he added.

Now that government leaders have been recruited, the next step is to add industry representatives as well.

New subcategories can be added depending on interest and government sponsorship, Suder said.

Because the IRS is a major part of the working group, ATARC didn’t want to launch too close to tax season.

“Government kind of has their own tiger team,” Suder said. “We take that and are a force multiplier for them.”

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Advanced Technology Academic Research Center, Annette Mitchell, DevOps, DevOps Federal Interagency Council, Garrett Yee, IRS, Nicolas Chaillan, Tom Suder
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