There are a lot of exceptionally competent software professionals
in the DoD. I meet them regularly in my training classes and continue
to be impressed by their conscientious attention to the mission and their
desire to do the best possible job. They also work hard to improve their
technical knowledge. I suspect that some of them work harder at it than
many in the civilian sector simply because they realize that non-military
people continue to underestimate them.
Moreover, it was a group of civilians, most of whom have no experience
in uniform, who produced the wrong-headed NRC report from which this
decision derives. The authors of the NRC report, technically superior
to me in every sense, failed to understand the larger issues of Ada
vis a vis the Department of Defense. Mr. Paige responded as he did
for reasons I do not fully understand, but I do know something about
the management process and the politics of large organizations. Now
we have to live with this unfortunate set of circumstances.
The issue with the Ada mandate is far more complicated that the level of
technical competence of our uniformed personnnel. It is, as many things
are, political not technical.
The fact is that the DoD management, from the top down, could not figure
out how to manage the single-language policy. I continue to believe that
it was a correct policy. The failure of Ada policy is not a failure of
Ada, nor is it a reflection on the intelligence or software knowledge of
the participants in its management. It is, rather, a management failure.
It is the realization that this was a management failure that I find most
troubling. If the professional managers in the DoD could not manage
something as simple as a single-language policy, how can we imagine they
will be able to manage a more complicated, multiple-language policy? And
these professional managers are some of the brightest, most dedicated
people I know. Yet the single-language policy was beyond their ability
Perhaps software policy, by its very nature, defies any attempt at
conforming to a coherent set of management policies. Perhaps we
are so skilled in the technical issues related to software that we
are unable to rise to the challenge of the management issues.
Whatever else we might say about Ada, we do know that Ada has proven that
it can do the job in every application domain for which it has been used.
We know that, as a technology, Ada does work. This being the case, what
other reason can we possible propose for our failure to make Ada policy
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