2019 Government Innovation Awards
Driving the IRS to DevOps
The IRS created the Deployment and Release Integration and Visibility Engine to better automate software implementation. DRIVE operates as a database that tracks the life cycle of a software deployment from start to finish. At each step in a project, it updates the status of approvals, records of success or failure and any outstanding IT tickets that need to be addressed.
Affectionately dubbed “the spaghetti bowl” by employees, the previous collection of legacy processes used for more than 7,750 transmittals every year often resulted in “death by too many options,” said Stephen Dill, an IT specialist at the IRS.
“We were trying to streamline a lot of that and bring everybody back to more of a standard and reduce the number of pathways that a project would take to get its code into a production environment,” he added.
DRIVE was meant to unspool the spaghetti bowl, a task that Robin Moses, acting director of the Enterprise Computing Center at the IRS, likened to keeping a plane flying while switching out engine components. Although the tool was initially developed for a single team, it has since become a critical vehicle to apply DevOps principles to 65 legacy processes across the IRS.
Officials credit DRIVE with cutting the number of steps needed to process software deployment transmittals in half, while increasing the percentage of automated steps from 2% to 45%. One internal study showed that under legacy conditions, the average software deployment took about 27.5 hours of combined effort. Under DRIVE, that time was cut to four hours, and officials believe they can get it down to two hours.
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