The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works to end hunger and obesity through the administration of 15 federal nutrition assistance programs including WIC, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and school meals. FNS National Office, 7 Regional Offices, and various field offices work in partnership with State and Tribal governments to deliver program benefits to eligible households. States are responsible for directly administering the majority of FNS’ programs while FNS provides policy, oversight, technical assistance, and funding to cover most of the States’ administrative costs.


FNS’ is legislatively mandated to monitor program administration and operation of all nutrition assistance programs to ensure State agencies are operating in compliance with Federal program requirements. FNS fulfills this mission through periodic compliance assessments, conducted by FNS Regional Offices, known as Management Evaluations (ME). Prior to 2016, many programs and Regions had developed their own systems to help schedule, manage, and track the status of hundreds of annual reviews and resulting compliance findings. Without a centralized system, FNS leadership was unable to easily gather data on MEs for Congressional requests, resource planning, and other monitoring needs. In addition, leadership felt funding for the development and ongoing maintenance and operation of multiple ME systems was wasteful and could be better used if pooled to create one shared system. As a result, leadership directed the agency to design and build one ME management system to address the needs of 15 different programs.


In order to elicit and capture user-centric requirements representing the needs of each of FNS’ programs, OneSpring employed Human-Centered Design (HCD) and visualization techniques to drive two-week design Sprints. For the initial Sprint of the project, OneSpring rapidly prototyped a low-fidelity interactive visualization model depicting the future-state of the system based on an analysis of the existing legacy applications and high-level requirements for the future state. This initial prototype helped the integrated project team validate the high-level scope of the new system, ensure basic functionality needed for each program, and plan and prioritize features/functionality for each product release.

With the initial prototype serving as a baseline, the lead program representatives from the integrated project team formed program specific sub-teams consisting of management and staff from each Region to account for variations in functional requirements by Region and to ensure end-users were central to the design and development of the system. During each Sprint, OneSpring conducted various HCD activities, such as interviews, think-aloud-testing, and feature prototyping with each of the sub-teams to elicit and capture requirements. Using the sub-teams’ requirements as inputs, visualization sessions with the integrated program team iterated on the prototype to create a full visualization and interactive model of the Sprint’s features and functionality at the user story/requirement level. OneSpring then conducted usability and user testing with the sub-teams on the prototype to gather feedback to further refine the prototype and reach consensus/acceptance from the team.


Justinmind, a collaborative UI prototyping and design tool, served as the prototyping platform to visually document the business and technology requirements and allow for the lead program representatives to share and gather feedback on the prototype with their sub-teams. Using JIRA, our Business Analyst translated the visual model into user stories with user acceptance criteria, business rules, functional, and non-functional requirements captured during the sessions. For each user story in JIRA, a direct link to the Justinmind prototype provided quick access to gain visual clarity on the acceptance criteria. In addition, with FNS’ OIT and the development vendor participating in the sessions, technology concerns were addressed in real-time and developers gained a rich understanding of the functional requirements allowing for more accurate estimates of the development backlog. After the integrated project team came to consensus on the prototype at the end of each Sprint, our Front-End Developer translated the visual design into HTML, CSS, and UI components and worked with the development vendor in implementing the code to ensure proper implementation.

One of the biggest challenges on the project was working across programs and regions to design a system responsive to their needs and creating a unified vision of the future-state. HCD techniques, such as interviewing, critique, and think-aloud-testing elicited user-centric requirements from program representatives while real-time visualization translated those requirements into an interactive prototype. This allowed program representatives to not only experience the system but validate end-user needs and gain a shared understanding of the system prior to system development.

We could not have completed our system development that is so strategic to our mission without the support of OneSpring.

Program Director
U.S. Department of Agriculture.



User Interviews
Contextual Inquiry
Task Analysis
Usability Testing
Accessibility Testing
508c Compliance


UX Strategy
Interaction Design
User Requirements


Interface Design
UI Kit
Design System


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