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ELIS – A Retrospective

Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) is one of USCIS’ flagship programs that has led the cloud migration and agile transformation for USCIS. Infostellar team has been supporting the USCIS/ELIS program for nearly a decade across multiple contracts FADS, FADS II, ODOS, and ODOS II. Our team got together to do a thorough review of what’s working for ELIS and what can be improved. Here is a summary of findings :


What’s working for ELIS

  • True Agility – ELIS is the place where imagination and creativity of development teams isn’t held back by bureaucracy in any way. True Agility does bring the best out of technical teams.
  • Openness and Collaboration across teams – A stance where anyone can review anybody else’s code. Quality or team stats are available across teams. Developers across vendors truly collaborate while working on each other’s code.
  • Shared Responsibility – Regardless of which vendor codes it, it’s all going to production next day. Either teams can choose to blame each other or they can collaborate among themselves to get it delivered.
  • Monthly Scorecard – Scorecard objectives keep the development teams focused on what’s most important.


What’s not working for ELIS

  • Sharing the Rewards – Just like how there is a sense of shared responsibility, there could be a more shared and balanced approach to recognize the good work.
  • Competition – Competition continues here even after the contract award. The mentality that “someone’s loss is someone else’s gain” should be kept in check. Finding creative ways to foster healthy competition will boost even more productivity across teams regardless of vendors.
  • Barrier to Entry – March to microservices hasn’t been able to make a dent in the huge code base, and an ever-growing big monolithic database. New vendors find it daunting to come up-to-speed to perform. ODOS I vendor could never find a firm footing in coming up to the speed and flourish there.


This blog is a part of a bigger article, if you are interested please read it here.

About Infostellar

Founded in 2007, Infostellar has grown to become a leading trusted advisor and thought leader in government DevOps and Agile Software development practices through years of development support for the Federal Government. Founded on the principles of interactive, innovative and incremental practices, Infostellar inc. believes that complex business challenges can be solved through true Agile development backed by highly skilled and motivated technical teams.