A Microprocurement Package For API Monitoring And Testing

I’m kicking off a micro-procurement project with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) this week. I’m going to to be conducting one of my API low hanging fruit campaigns for them, where I help them identify the best possible data sets available across their public websites for turning into APIs. The project is one of many small projects the federal agency is putting out there to begin working on their agency wide API platform they are calling Lighthouse. Laying the groundwork for better serving veterans through a robust stack of microservices that each do one thing really well, but can be used in concert to deliver the applications the agency needs to meet their mission.

While not specifically a project to develop a microservice. The landscape analysis project is an API focused research project, that is testing a new procurement model called microprocurement. At my government consulting agency partnership Skylight Digital, my partner in crime Chris Cairns has been pushing for a shift in how government tackles technology projects, pushing them to do in smaller chunks that essentially can be put on the credit card in less than 10K increments. So far we’ve been doing consulting, research, and training related projects like how to create a bug bounty program, and internal evangelism strategies. Now we are kicking our campaign into high gear and pushing more agencies to think about microprocurement for microservices–the VA was the first agency to buy into this new way of thinking about how government IT gets delivered.

I am working with all of my partners to help me craft potential services that would fit into the definition of a microprocurement project. I’ve been working to educate people about the process so that more API experts are on hand to respond when agencies publish microprocurement RFPs on Github like the VA did, but I also want to make sure and have a suite of microprocurement packages that federal agencies can choose from as well. I’ve been working with my partner Dave O’Neill over at API Metrics to provide me with some detail on an API testing microprocurement package that federal agencies could buy into for less than 10K, providing the follow value:

  • API discovery and creation of a Postman collection
  • Annual monitoring for up to 10 APIs including the following:
  • Weekly and monthly emailed quality statements – CASC scores and SLOs/SLA attainment
  • Interface to named operations tooling for alerts
  • Public dashboards for sharing API status and SLA with all stakeholders.

Providing a pretty compelling annual API monitoring package that government agencies could put on the credit card, and help ensure the quality of service provided across federal agencies when it comes to providing APIs. Something that is desperately needed across federal agencies who in my experience are mostly conducting “API nonitoring”, where they are not monitoring anything. Ideally, ALL federal agencies provide an SLA with the public and private APIs they are serving up, and relying on outside entities like API Metrics to be doing the monitoring from an external perspective, and potentially even different regions of the US–ensuring everyone has access to government services.

I’ll publish anther story after I kick off my work with the VA. I’ll also keep beating the drum about microprocurement opportunities like this one with API Metrics. If you are an API service provider who has an interesting package you think federal agencies would be interested in–let me know. Also, if you are a government agency and would like to learn more about how to conduct microprocurement projects feel free to drop me a line, or reach out to Chris Cairns (@cscairns) over at Skylight Digital–he can set you up. We are just getting going with this types of projects, but I’m pretty optimistic about the potential they can bring to the table when it comes to delivering IT projects–an approach that reflects the API way of doing things in small, meaningful chunks, and won’t break the bank.