ModernizingDelivery ofFinancial Aid
Common Origination and Disbursement (COD)is a mission-critical suite of applicationsused by the U.S. Department of Education’sOffice of Federal Student Aid (FSA).COD processes federal financial aid for those seeking to pursuepostsecondary education in the United States, and for U.S.based people attending universities and colleges abroad.To enable cost savings, improve agility, and enhance the securityposture, it was necessary to modernize COD by re-architectingit from its mainframe platform to a fully automated, moderntechnology stack hosted on a FedRAMP authorized cloud serviceprovider, AWS GovCloud (US). Accenture Federal Services (Accenture)transitioned the hosting with the establishment of a DevSecOpsfoundation to enable a rapid path to adopt AWS capabilities tosupport the pace of capability development needed by FSA.2
Managing the Riskof Retiring 3 MillionLines of CodeCOD processes 23 million award originationsand 48 million disbursements annually accountingfor 115 billion in aid in 2020. Due to the criticalityof COD to the Department of Education, Accentureand FSA prioritized risk mitigation and contingencyplanning on the modernization roadmap.3
oneDuring the first of three phases of the initiative,progress was made over a series of releasesto modernize and replace discrete legacycomponents. This allowed the team to provethe viability of the modernized componentsin the overall enterprise landscape.4twoBuilding on the success of the first phase,the team then moved into the secondphase which included building the targetstate architecture. This modernizedapplication and execution architecturerelied on a DevSecOps tool and processfoundation. This included automationto achieve consistent environmentand application builds to supportthe ultimate core system transition.threeDuring the third phase, a single deploymentapproach was taken to replace the core ofthe system and migrate all data to the targetarchitecture. The new, modern architectureincluded the replacement of 3 million linesof COBOL code and movement of 18 billionrecords from legacy IMS and DB2 databasesto a new data model compromising 700tables. The team utilized end-to-end mockconversions and multi-month productionsimulations to compare functionality acrosssystems and confirm equivalency of financialand person record level data.
Realizing Outcomes in the CloudThe inclusion of industry alignedtools and Cloud-native servicesenabled the ultimate realization ofthe modernized architecture platformfor COD on AWS GovCloud (US).The mainframe transition enabled the selectionof modern, better aligned security, operations,and development tools with an emphasis onopen source and cloud native.With the transition to AWS GovCloud (US), theteam utilized leading AWS capabilities includingthe Relational Database Service (RDS ), Lambda serverless compute, and other FedRAMPHigh services to achieve the security andoperations requirements for the COD system.Pairing automation with AWS scalabilityenabled a new pace of growth for COD whichsaw the shift to more modular development5and the creation of new capabilities to driveFSA mission outcomes. The net result wasan expansion of COD applications from40 to more than 80. The previous mainframeplatform supported 4 test environments andthrough use of automation, containerization,and a flexible Cloud architecture this nowscales to more than 40 test environments.Driven by test automation within theCI/CD pipelines, the Cloud environmentenables FSA to support its concurrentdelivery needs for the enterprise.
A DevSecOps FoundationTo support the pace of CODarchitecture and applicationchanges arising from legislativerequirements and businessdriven enhancements, Accentureestablished a fully automatedDevSecOps architecture as partof the mainframe transition.6The team’s DevSecOps approach emphasizesconsistent and controlled environmentconfiguration management as a means ofmitigating delivery risk with a complex set ofintegrated applications. This is driven throughan everything-as-code approach utilizinga Configuration-as-Code (CaC) solution forplatform and application which then extendedto infrastructure with the transition to AWS.The automation in place supports the provisioningand management of each layer of the CODarchitecture enabling the build and rebuild of oneor all components. The CI/CD pipelines integratewith the container platform to enable delivery ofconsistent, secure packaging of each applicationfor rapid deployment. Deployments occur ata weekly cadence during peak change periods.
Refocusingthe TeamTransitioning from mainframe to Cloudrequired the re-orientation of COD’stechnology stack, but also drove theretooling and growth of its architecture,operations, and security teams.These teams needed to transition at pace with the modernizationto provide continuity of operations through each successivephase of the transition. By using both the Accenture and AWSpartner training, Accenture transformed more than 200 resourcesto maintain, enhance, and evolve the COD Cloud platform.7
Embracing the CloudThe transition of COD to AWS GovCloud (US) providedthe seed that has now grown to see FSA transitioningits core systems to the Cloud. By the end of 2021,60% of FSA’s enterprise systems will run on the Cloud.This transition includes the modernization of anothermainframe system and the establishment of new systemsto deliver on FSA’s investment in improving the financialaid experience for students and borrowers. Today, thisincludes a partner ecosystem that supports more than5,600 schools and a borrower population that includesmore than 40 million active borrowers.8
Customer InfoAbout Accenture Federal ServicesAbout AccentureThe U.S. Department of Education(Department) is the organization responsiblefor education policy within the U.S. FederalGovernment. One of the Department’skey programs, known as Title IV, providesfinancial aid to support the postsecondaryeducation goals of eligible students and theirfamilies. The Office of Federal Student Aid(FSA) is the agency within the Departmentwith responsibility for managing Title IVfederal student aid programs and processes.FSA delivers more than 115B in student aidto 10.8M students and their families throughits loan and grant programs annually.Accenture Federal Services, a whollyowned subsidiary of Accenture LLP is a U.S.company with offices in Arlington, Virginia.Accenture’s federal business has servedevery cabinet-level department and 30 ofthe largest federal organizations. AccentureFederal Services transforms bold ideasinto breakthrough outcomes for clientsat defense, intelligence, public safety,civilian and military health organizations.Accenture is a global professional servicescompany with leading capabilities in digital,cloud and security. Combining unmatchedexperience and specialized skills acrossmore than 40 industries, we offer Strategyand Consulting, Interactive, Technology andOperations services—all powered by the world’slargest network of Advanced Technology andIntelligent Operations centers. Our 514,000people deliver on the promise of technologyand human ingenuity every day, serving clientsin more than 120 countries. We embrace thepower of change to create value and sharedsuccess for our clients, people, shareholders,partners and communities.Learn more at www.accenturefederal.comVisit us at www.accenture.com/serviceThis content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with ourprofessional advisors. This document refers to marks owned by third parties. All such third-party marks are the property oftheir respective owners. No sponsorship, endorsement or approval of this content by the owners of such marks is intended,expressed or implied.Copyright 2021 Accenture. All rights reserved210149
CI/CD pipelines, the Cloud environment enables FSA to support its concurrent delivery needs for the enterprise. Realizing Outcomes in the Cloud 5. A DevSecOps Foundation To suppo