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Purpose of this Handbook

The President’s Management Agenda lays the foundation for creating a 21st century Government that delivers better results to our citizens and improves the way we deliver digital services to better serve the American people. This foundation includes an efficient and effective acquisition system that maximizes the value of every taxpayer dollar invested in technology.

The FAR and each agency’s supplement to the FAR, set forth Government-wide overarching Federal procurement principles, policies, processes and procedures on procuring goods and services, including IT and digital services. The FAR provides contracting officials with considerable flexibility to conduct their acquisitions in smart, innovative ways that take advantage of proven commercial strategies. The TechFAR Handbook focuses on provisions of the FAR that are most relevant to digital services acquisitions and explains how agencies can align their applications of FAR authorities with contemporary development[5] approaches that improve investment manageability and budgetary feasibility, reduce risk, and shorten time to value. It is designed to support effective risk management and break down common myths that inhibit the modernization of Government’s approaches to digital service development.

Within the realm of IT acquisition, this handbook concentrates primarily on software development procurements (excluding nondevelopmental and commercially available off-the-shelf items) and, in particular, the use of Agile principles. Software represents a significant component of IT contract[6] spending and plays a role in the success of most, if not all, Federal programs. The handbook assumes familiarity with OMB’s Digital Services Playbook, which discusses strategies and best practices for agencies building digital services, and specifies Agile, iterative development as a critical component for success.

For each stage of the acquisition lifecycle, this document highlights key regulatory provisions and explains how Agile approaches can be effectively and successfully implemented consistent with core values of public procurement, including impartiality, accountability for results, and providing the best value to the taxpayer. It does not teach Agile software development, but includes practice tips and sample language from agencies that have successfully used these tools to support mission needs.

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