Office of the Chief Information Officer

United States Department of Agriculture

USDA IT Governance Framework Overview

Overview

Information Technology (IT) plays a critical role in the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ability to carry out its mission to “…provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management.” Each year the complexity of the IT environment grows, and making sound IT investment decisions requires greater amounts of information.

For example, the Department improves the Nation’s economy and quality of life by touching the lives of almost every person in America, every day. Nearly 100,000 employees deliver more than $144 billion in public services through the Department’s more than 300 programs worldwide, providing leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management. USDA needs to respond effectively to the challenges posed by the diversity, complexity, and volume of IT investment proposals brought forward by various stakeholders throughout the Department. This new integrated IT governance framework supports government priorities and program delivery.

USDA’s Integrated Information Technology Governance Framework (IITGF) is a holistic set of processes, procedures, and guidelines that assist the Office of the Chief Information Officer’s (OCIO’s) customers improve mission delivery. It does this by providing structure around the budget formulation, budget execution, enterprise architecture, capital planning, IT security, Section 508, Records Management, and portfolio/project management processes. Implementing the IITGF satisfies the following goals:

  • Provides a coherent and effective project management methodology to guide IT project management at USDA. The methodology is intended to consistently deliver IT capabilities that provide maximum support to USDA business needs within approved cost and schedule constraints.
  • Better integrates IT project planning and execution with IT Governance, including more effective multi-disciplinary reviews of IT projects by the stakeholders and IT executive governance bodies.

The IITGF includes touch points with other USDA’s governance, management, and control activities and processes, such as: Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC), Agriculture’s System Development Life Cycle (AgSDLC) approach, Project Management (PM), Enterprise Architecture (EA), Risk Management Framework (RMF), and IT Security.

Implementing an Integrated IT Governance Framework further supports the USDA mission by providing the alignment for decisions with needed technology components, services, and applications.

An important objective of the IITGF Life Cycle is to provide flexibility that allows for tailoring of artifacts, decision gate reviews, and governance board reviews to suit the characteristics of a particular solution development effort. If tailoring is approved in advance by the governance board, these alternative development approaches empower project managers to tailor tasks in order to meet the specific needs of the project while maintaining compliance with the AgSDLC and IITGF governance processes.

Some of the most popular, time and cost effective alternative development models are: Rapid Application Development (RAD), Pilot Development, Iterative, Agile, Government off the Shelf (GOTS)/Commercial off the Shelf (COTS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).

Alternative Solution Development Methodologies

An important objective of the IITGF Life Cycle is to provide flexibility that allows for tailoring of artifacts, decision gate reviews, and governance board reviews to suit the characteristics of a particular solution development effort. If tailoring is approved in advance by the governance board, these alternative development approaches empower project managers to tailor tasks in order to meet the specific needs of the project while maintaining compliance with the AgSDLC and IITGF governance processes.

Some of the most popular, time and cost effective alternative development models are: Rapid Application Development (RAD), Pilot Development, Iterative, Agile, Government off the Shelf (GOTS)/Commercial off the Shelf (COTS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).