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How Agile ATOs streamline government software development

When U.S. federal agencies need to deploy a new software application or information system, they must first ensure it complies with a comprehensive set of government-approved security standards — and ultimately get a signed ATO or Authorization to Operate. That process can be cumbersome and makes it hard to introduce agile, or more frequent, software upgrades.

Dave Raley, CX digital program manager at Marine Corps Community Services, and Ryan Pratt, chief executive officer at Raven Solutions, joined a recent episode of The Daily Scoop Podcast to talk about the concept of Agile ATOs and why they are increasingly important to moving faster in government.

According to Pratt, the Agile ATO process “defines a standard operating procedure for the risk management framework.” That framework integrates risk management and cybersecurity into the software development cycle from the start, allowing teams to organize around value delivery and better integrate with one another to reduce waste and delay.

While the traditional ATO process delivery cycle is 12 to 18 months, according to Pratt, the agile ATO process significantly streamlines security approvals for new software applications and “drives improved outcomes through automation and process improvement, reducing complexity, resources, cost and time.”

This has been true for the U.S. Marine Corps, according to Raley. He says that Agile ATO has allowed USMC to get one part of the ATO process — control implementation and assessment — to under 30 days.

“We are now in this position of deploying mission capabilities at the speed of relevance,” says Raley.

In addition, Raley and Pratt discussed what’s next when it comes to Agile ATOs. For Pratt, that will involve spreading the word across the Department of Defense about how this process can compress the DevSecOps cycle to get to ATO signoffs faster. Raven Solutions is also working with AWS to create a marketplace offering for this solution.

From the program manager side, Raley wants to share these lessons within the broader Marine Corps and Navy communities, which he says will result in significant cost savings and enable faster software deployment.

“Our future state of operations really depends on our proficiency to rapidly and securely deliver resilient software capabilities,” says Raley.

You can hear the latest technology news and trends in government on The Daily Scoop Podcast, featured on FedScoop.

This podcast was produced by Scoop News Group, for The Daily Scoop Podcast, and underwritten by AWS.

Dave Raley is CX digital program manager at Marine Corps Community Services.

Ryan Pratt is chief executive officer at Raven Solutions.