Insight by Appian

How low-code and an agile approach helped important Air Force system modernization

Acquisition and procurement systems are both critical and complex. They must follow law and regulation. They must provide transparency to many agency stakeholders including finance and accounting and mission owners, as well as the acquisition staff itself. And they must be responsive to users.

The Air Force has successfully modernized a crucial acquisition system known as contract writing. Its CON-IT program is the result of a sustained, agile approach using low-code programming tools to produce a modern, web application to replace a costly and dated – 20 years old – legacy contract writing system. CON-IT uses robotic process automation to pull in and present to users the myriad sources of data they need. And it enabled a seamless switch to teleworking when the pandemic hit.

For more on its benefits and how it was created, Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mark Wagner, chief of contracting business systems, discussed it with Appian’s Ben Allen, director of federal acquisition solutions. In this video they detail an approachable, reliable and low-cost way to achieve modernization.

Appian Federal Acquisition Modernization Solutions

Appian has robotic process automation built into our application stack. If you need to use RPA with a legacy system, use that. If that system is modern and has application programming interface calls, you can use that instead. It’s about using the right tools for the right integration and bringing that data to the user.

Contract Writing Systems and CON-IT Program

Covid could have slowed us down but it didn’t. We had to pivot to that telework environment. But CON-IT being a web-based program helped those four thousand users make that transition very quickly. Our user log-ins actually went up 18 percent in the ten weeks after we transitioned to telework.

The Future of Federal Acquisition Modernization and Automation

We develop in an agile manner, so we’re not just thinking about the long term. We’re asking where we go next, sprint to sprint. Right now our focus is on shutting down legacy systems and modernizing contracting for all of our mission-focused business leaders…especially in the major systems programs.

Listen to the full show:

Featured speakers

  • Lieutenant Colonel Mark Wagner

    Chief, Contracting Business Systems, U.S. Air Force

  • Ben Allen

    Director, Federal Acquisition Solutions, Appian

  • Tom Temin

    Host, The Federal Drive, Federal News Network

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