A federal agency upgrades its digital communications platform to be more responsive, accessible, and feature-rich, empowering participants to share, learn, and collaborate securely from locations worldwide.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) sought to empower its network of international partner organizations more effectively through a complete redesign of the GlobalNET digital platform — without the waste and failed goals associated with previous waterfall contracts. Partnering with the agency in an Agile approach, CivicActions delivered a secure, multi-lingual platform to help DSCA foster national and international collaboration through an interface that is easy-to-use, mobile-friendly and web-accessible anywhere in the world.
The DSCA aims to “strengthen partnerships that further the national security interests of the United States” — a vision that requires a robust, reliable, and accessible program for information sharing and relationship building in multiple languages and locations. CivicActions was engaged to upgrade DSCA’s GlobalNET platform from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 while creating a more personalized and responsive user experience. The agency also sought enhanced integration with its partner organizations and better collaboration options for the GlobalNET community.
With a growing user base of over 60,000 active participants and over 1,500 content updates per day, the platform required a masterful content migration to ensure uninterrupted functionality. CivicActions employed creative solutions, together with an Agile and iterative development process, to address the challenges posed by multiple layers of customers and out-of-date software.
Transforming Government Through Agile Development
Of 3,555 federal projects from 2003 to 2012 that had labor costs of at least $10 million, only 6.4% were successful. Most were over budget, behind schedule, or didn’t meet user expectations, while others were abandoned as complete failures. DSCA, having experienced the insufficiency of a waterfall approach with its previous GlobalNET efforts, challenged the status quo for government by adopting a fixed-price Agile contract, paving the way for more agencies to discover the value of hiring a team that works iteratively with stakeholders toward a product that delivers real customer happiness.
Creative Content Migration
To facilitate the modernization of the GlobalNET system, we developed an automatic migration for 550,000 pages, 589,040 files, and 65,000 user accounts from a legacy Drupal 6 site into a fully redesigned Drupal 7 site. This involved a complete restructuring and remapping of the data and content structures, resulting in an elegant, easily navigable platform for end users. The migration also accounted for file attachments and URL path management.
Responsive and “Mobile-First” Design
Prioritizing user needs for increased satisfaction, we planned the GlobalNET redesign from a “mobile-first” perspective, allowing the desktop experience to unfold organically. This ensured the creation of a ground-up responsive platform, accessible from anywhere in the world. Whether on-the-go or at a desk, GlobalNET participants can access a suite of sophisticated community functionality such as discussions, contact networking, private messaging and content curation.
Secure Platform For International Partners
Acting as partners and teammates rather than rigid contractors, we worked alongside DSCA to bake security and compliance into an Agile System Development Life Cycle and support the agency in taking their first system through the NIST Risk Management Framework to receive an Authority to Operate (ATO). We also provided the agency with an Information System Security Officer (ISSO) in collaboration with an Information System Security Manager (ISSM) to develop policies appropriate to cloud-based hosting and automate management of artifacts for Assessment and Authorization package.
Tools For Increased Collaboration
To empower DSCA partners in their communication and learning efforts, we created open and moderated groups where members can initiate or participate in discussions, share media, and keep track of upcoming events. Course collaboration groups allow professors to share their syllabus, course materials, and announcements, while students can participate in discussions and upload coursework for review. Bringing it all together, GlobalNET users can access their own account area that serves as a personalized dashboard, enabling members to receive messages and notifications, get in touch with contacts, and navigate quickly to their groups, courses, events, and saved content.
Fostering An Informed Global Community
To help the DSCA’s international partners stay in touch and up-to-date, we provided branded landing pages for partner organizations, where administrators can share news, media, and publications with GlobalNET members and the public. Calendars and event listings for each organization, along with their groups and courses, ensure that users remain fully informed of every opportunity for learning and growing within the GlobalNET community. SMS and “Solr” search integration make it easy for visitors to quickly find what they need among the site’s vast resources.
By partnering with CivicActions in user-focused research and embracing forward-thinking Agile methodologies, DSCA succeeded in delivering a vastly improved online experience to its partner organizations. As the agency that serves as a leader in the future of international security and communication, DSCA can now present GlobalNET as a platform equal to its mission.
- Drupal web development
- Visual Design and Icon Design
- Content migration from legacy systems
- Redesigned system architecture and content strategy
- Delivery of lean, results-oriented services based on groundbreaking Agile contract
- Platform upgrade to Drupal 7 to create a responsive and streamlined experience for users
- Migration of massive legacy content from various systems and an active user community
- Collaboration tools that allow members to easily share, learn, report, and communicate
- Integration of partner organizations through branded landing pages for news and events
- Drupal 7
- Mobile-friendly, responsive design
- FEDRAMP compliant platform
- Meets DoD network security requirements