TSA still needs to fully implement agile strategies, GAO says

The agency needs to update performance metrics for the new Agile strategy, for example.
TSA, Transportation Security Administration
A TSA checkpoint. (Andrew Pilloud / Flickr)

The Transportation Security Administration is using agile software development methodologies as part of its Technology Infrastructure Modernization (TIM) program, but has not implemented all the steps necessary to oversee this new strategy, a Government Accountability Office report found.

The report released on Tuesday states that while Department of Homeland Security and TSA leadership are fully committed to agile, practical implementation is still needed. “The program had not defined key roles and responsibilities, prioritized system requirements, or implemented automated capabilities that are essential to ensuring effective adoption of Agile,” the report states.

Specific implementation steps needed include updated oversight and governance documents and performance metrics for the agile process, an iterative and incremental approach to development.

The GAO report urges TSA to make the necessary amendments. “Given that TIM is a historically troubled program and is at least 6 months behind its rebaselined schedule, it is especially concerning that TSA and DHS have not fully implemented oversight and governance practices for this program,” the report states.


The watchdog makes 14 specific recommendations, including that the TSA administrator set agile performance metrics and “ensure that the TIM program management office ensures that unit test coverage for software releases is measured and reported accurately.”

TSA agreed with all 14 recommendations.

“Until TSA and DHS fully implement these practices to ensure the TIM program meets its cost, schedule, and performance targets, the program is at risk of repeating past mistakes and not delivering the capabilities that were initiated 9 years ago to protect the nation’s transportation infrastructure,” the report concludes.

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