Public Sector IV&V


For about twenty years, I have been involved in Information Technology (IT) in both the public and private sectors. I have been a business analyst, a software tester, a test manager, and an independent verification and validation (IV&V) manager. I have taught software quality assurance at a Washington DC University.I co-authored the IEEE Std 829-2008, System and Software Test Documentation and I was involved in the development of the IEEE Std 1012-2004, Standard for Verification and Validation and I am currently part of the working group that is developing IEEE Std 1012-x that will enhance best practices in software verification and validation.

Many federal government agencies are looking at independent verification and validation (IV&V) as the panacea to all their ills — or at least to some of their ills.Much of this interest in IV&V is driven by a new breed of CIO’s who understand the business value of having IV&V as well as by members of Congress who attach a requirement for IV&V to funding for large IT acquisition.As a result, requests for proposal (RFP) are being issued for IV&V services. Unfortunately for the acquirer and the potential supplier the requests and the resulting statement of work are either very general such as “provide IV&V services” or overly detailed such as “provide an approach for completing the IV&V strategy,” or “provide an overview of what will be contained in the IV&V Plan.”The later came from an organization that expected IV&V products to be consistent with IEEE Std. 1012-2004.

IV&V Taxonomy

After a number of years of these recurring experiences, I have come to the conclusion that the agencies know what they want but they don’t know how to ask for it.To resolve this problem I have developed a taxonomy of IV&V services.This taxonomy is not complicated and involves only five categories of IV&V services.These include:management and support; engineering documentation; test documentation and test witnessing; reviews and audits; and process and procedures.Within each category are a number of specific services.Presenting these categories with specific services to the IV&V sponsor and/or to the contracting office ensures a “win-win” situation for both the acquiring agency and the supplying contractor.The taxonomy provides a means for the acquiring agency to articulate its needs and it provides specifics that allow the supplier to meet those needs.These categories and their contents provide an orderly core set of IV&V services for selection and allow the acquiring agency to identify services they may have overlooked.

In the management and support category the acquirer can choose from:

  • Assessment of the Statement of Need
  • Assessment of the Program/Project Plan
  • Assessment of the Configuration Management Plan
  • Assessment of the Quality Assurance Plan
  • Assessment of the Security Plan
  • Assessment of the Master Test Plan

Just as the Program/Project Plan describes how the program/project will be managed including the organization and identification of the high-level activities so does the Master Test Plan describe the organization of the test effort and the identification of the high-level activities.Additional services in this category

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may include an assessment of the certification and accreditation package prior to submission for approval or an assessment of the transition plan.It may include an assessment of the project schedule or even the EVMS process.IV&V may be requested to evaluate the Program Management Office (PMO) and its processes or even the IT acquisition process.

Within the engineering documentation category the acquirer can choose from:

  • Assessment of System Requirements
  • Assessment of Architectural Design
  • Assessment of Interface Requirements
  • Assessment of Software Design
  • Assessment of Database Design

Additional services in this category may include an assessment of the conversion plan, the migration plan, the correctness of data conversion, or the integration plan.

In the test documentation and test witnessing category the acquirer can choose from:

  • Assessment of Test Plans (integration, system, acceptance)
  • Assessment of Test Designs ( integration, system, acceptance)
  • Assessment of Test Cases (integration, system, acceptance)
  • Assessment of Test Procedures (integration, system, acceptance)
  • Assessment of Test Execution (integration, system, acceptance)
  • Assessment of Test Reports (integration, system, acceptance)

Within this category the acquirer may be interested in an assessment of the test logs or even the anomalies that have been generated throughout the development process.The assessment of test execution will include whether or not each test run

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provided the expected results and whether an anomaly report was written if it the test did not provide the expected results.IV&V may also report on how well the test process as described

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in the documentation was followed especially regarding test suspension and test resumption.

In the review and audits category the acquirer can choose from:

  • Support of Requirements Review
  • Support of Preliminary and Critical Design Review
  • Support of Test Readiness Review (integration, system, acceptance)
  • Support of Function and Physical Configuration Audit
  • Support Management Reviews

Each of these reviews and audits may be supported by IV&V. When supporting a review or audit, IV&V will determine if the required inputs have been base-lined prior to the review or audit.For example, IV&V will ascertain whether the requirements documents and the applicable design documents have been base-lined prior to the Critical Design Review which assesses the detailed design documents.Applicable IV&V task reports for each the documents provided for each review will be

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included.IV&V also will participate in these technical reviews.

The acquiring organization may request that IV&V participate in management reviews.If so, the acquiring organization will identify whether it wants participation at all project level management meetings, selected meetings, invited participation at senior management reviews or some other combination of regular and ad hoc management meetings.

In the process and procedures category the acquirer can choose from:

  • Assessment of the Configuration Management Process
  • Assessment of the Quality Assurance Process
  • Assessment of Test Process
  • Assessment of the Development Process


Not every organization or every project will require the full range of IV&V services. For example, some projects will be development projects while others will be up-grade projects.However, by categorizing the possible services the acquiring organization will be in a better position to identify if it wants IV&V for its engineering effort or for its process evaluation.Once the needed category has been identified the acquiring organization will then understand what specific core services are available within each category and will be able to select those that are best suited for the project or program at hand.