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How HHS used agile to improve oversight

The IT infrastructure at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General was long overdue for an overhaul. Its legacy technology stack, which was never intended for mobility, social media, business intelligence and data mining tools was preventing innovation, according to John B. O’Grady, acting director of OIG’s Digital Services Division.

To modernize OIG’s systems, O’Grady’s team used agile development, DevOps, lean management and a heavy investment in cloud services, automation and user-centric development to deliver services that track everything from adverse events in hospitals to unaccompanied immigrant children in HHS custody and complaints from the agency’s hotline.

Trying to avoid re-engineering applications, workflows and reporting tools along with a massive data migration, the modernization team relied on a cloud-based low-code application development platforms and open source technology.

“We're trying not to fill process gaps with code,” O’Grady said during a recent event showcasing 2020 Federal 100 Award winners.  We’re “trying to simplify the process and think about this thing and how it was going to scale at a later date,” he said. 

As new capabilities were introduced, people could start seeing the mission value, how it could make their lives in their jobs easier and drive to the strategic outcomes that OIG was working to achieve, O’Grady said. Thanks in part to his work, the OIG expected to recover $5.9 billion -- or $6 for every taxpayer.

Read about all the 2020 Federal 100 winners here.

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