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TEAM-ADA  March 1997

TEAM-ADA March 1997

Subject:

Re: The DoD Ada Mandate

From:

"Crispen, Bob" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Crispen, Bob

Date:

Wed, 12 Mar 1997 08:51:47 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (65 lines)

Mike sez:

>> I understand completely the problems with mandating things.  But I have
>> to say that in the neck of the woods where I work, there is an
>> adolescent type of libertarianism at work which effectively says, "since
>> the mandate is going away (or has not been enforced - take your pick),
>> we *should not* use Ada".
>
>Sigh. And to think that these adolescent libertarians are writing the
>software that defends our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness
>against outside invasion...

No, no, Mike.  These "adolescent libertarians" are *buying* the
software that defends our (etc.).

I will now reveal a deep, dark business secret of the company I
work for: we build products that we believe our customers want.
If our customers want purple helicopters, we'll paint our
helicopters purple.  If they want Ada, then we'll sell them Ada.

But if you take a look at the behavior of some of the folks in
the DOD, you might be forgiven for concluding that, despite
the previous policy, they'd do almost anything to avoid buying
products developed in Ada.

All the new policy does is permit those folks to say out in
the open what they've been going "wink, wink, nudge, nudge"
about for the past few years.

On the whole, I think that's a good thing, and can open up
the process to companies that weren't around when all
the winking and nudging was going on.

In short, the new policy won't be bad for Ada.  What has
been bad for Ada is the DOD's own failure to propagate
and enforce their software engineering policy.

This non-enforcement is a result of the DOD's virtually
complete failure to budget for the lifecycle.  You know
the equations: spend $X on the front end and you end
up with a lifecycle cost of $Y.  Spend $X+n on the
front end and you end up with $Y-m over the lifecycle
(m>>n).

But if I'm a program manager, and I have no accountability
whatever for the lifecycle cost, why on earth would I
have the tiniest motivation to spend the greater amount
of money on what I *am* held accountable for?

Combine this with a career policy that guarantees that
if I let out a project for bids late enough in my time on
the job, I won't even have to worry about being around
when development finishes (or doesn't finish) on time,
and you get the present state of affairs.

The Ada "mandate" is small potatoes compared with
this headlong plunge into oblivion, and I'm only
surprised that we expected the "mandate" to have
any effect against it.

Bob Crispen
[log in to unmask]
The forgoing is a personal opinion, and has no relationship
to the policies of my employer.

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