PEO EIS deputy program executive officer briefs industry on Agile advancements

By Erika ChristJuly 7, 2023

PEO EIS Deputy Program Executive Officer Bill Hepworth speaking at the AFCEA Belvoir luncheon on June 28, 2023.
PEO EIS Deputy Program Executive Officer Bill Hepworth speaking at the AFCEA Belvoir luncheon on June 28, 2023. (Photo Credit: Laura Edwards, PEO EIS Strategic Communication Directorate) VIEW ORIGINAL

PEO EIS Deputy Program Executive Officer Bill Hepworth, who joined the organization in December 2022 following decades of work in information technology and government contracting, made his speaking debut as an Army Civilian leader at the June 28 AFCEA Belvoir luncheon in Springfield, Virginia.

Hepworth, who is overseeing EIS’s Agile transformation, kicked off his presentation with some high-level observations about his new workplace. The sheer size of the organization with its more than 70 acquisition programs impressed him.

“Our products pretty much touch the entire Army,” said Hepworth. “It blows my mind when I think about it.”

He also was amazed at how quickly the EIS workforce jumped onto the Agile bandwagon after Program Executive Officer Ross Guckert announced plans last fall for the organization to align with the Army’s Agile vision.

“We already look different today from when I joined,” said Hepworth.

Transformation has been happening, he said, citing ArmyIgnitED as a success story and crediting Army Contract Writing System and Army Training Information System for their progress. The other major push at EIS right now is digital transformation, which involves looking at artificial intelligence/machine learning technologies and incorporating more human-centered design by inviting Soldiers and Civilians to be part of software development discussions.

To facilitate the Agile transformation, EIS has undergone some organizational change, including reorganizing the Acquisition Innovation Directorate to become a Lean Agile Center of Excellence; adding the new Chief Information Office to set up audit requirements and establish guidance for organization-wide conformance; and transitioning the Business Management Division — led by Adam Bross as of July 3 — into a data-driven organization. All the directorates have begun adopting the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), said Hepworth, and the project management shops have been encouraging their program development teams to use Agile Scrum methodology.

“We accept change, and we also accept failure,” said Hepworth. “We want to take small, upfront gambles to advance toward our goals. If we fail on the small bites, we won’t fail at the larger level.”

Noting that integrators need to be involved earlier in the acquisition process, Hepworth made some requests of the AFCEA event attendees, most of whom were from industry:

  • Bring your ideas and commercial best practices.
  • Have an understanding of SAFe and be Agile certified.
  • Invest in training for those who support our programs and help us upskill our team members.

Besides upskilling the PEO EIS workforce through customized training, EIS leaders are working with ASA(ALT) on the Agile resourcing challenge and leveraging a technology services contract, short-term project specialists (“smokejumpers”) and industry support to grow the organization’s bench of Agilists.

Some of those future Agilists may still be in high school or college, and Hepworth joined AFCEA Belvoir officials in recognizing over 50 students pursuing STEM/STEAM degree programs who earned scholarships based on their contributions.

“We need innovators in government, and I’m looking forward to the talent your generation will bring to support our nation,” he said.