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"Hal Hart - ACM SIGAda Chair (Hal Hart)" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 13:41:50 -0500
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Since Barry Boehm's LA SIGAda presentation a week ago on the National
Academy of Science's National Research Council's study on Ada usage
for the DoD [top 4 summary recommendations copied at end of this msg],
I have received several requests for (1) the presentation charts, (2)
the full study, and (3) status of DoD's acceptance or rejection of the
recommendations.  After tracking down some changed URL's, I can answer
(1) & (2), and I'll tell you what I've heard on (3).

(1) PUBLIC PRESENTATION CHARTS on the NRC Ada STUDY:  are available
    on the AdaIC website in both online-viewable HTML structure and
    downloadable PowerPoint file (150K bytes):
    These are basically the same charts Barry presented at Tri-Ada'96
    in December.  There are 54 slides in the PPT file.

    If you & those close to you do not have access to the web, you may
    call my secretary Patty Shipp (310/764-3011) who can send you a 2-up
    double-sided copy of essentially the same charts.

(2) THE FULL STUDY: can be ordered ($29) online from the National Academy
    Press, and the same website says it will be uploaded to be obtainable
    & viewable online in the (very near?) future:

    I still do not have a copy of the full report myself, so I can
    not answer specific questions beyond what was covered in the
    presentation & accompanying Q/A.  I do know that the full report
    contains much information (including the study group's definition
    of "warfighting"), background, and rationale going far beyond the
    presentation charts, so those needing in-depth information &
    justifications should get the full report.

(3) STATUS OF RECOMMENDATIONS: No action has been taken at present by the DoD.

    Please realize that I am in no way an official voice for anyone, but
    I have recently heard two sources close to the action provide
    significantly diverging ESTIMATES as to when the DoD will act
    upon the recommendations.  The two "guesses" were:
        (a) Asst. SecDef C3I Emmitt Paige will enact a policy change before
            he leaves office, which could be within a month or two.
            (He has submitted his retirement, effective when a successor
            is appointed, and I think no nomination has been made yet.)
        (b) It might be more than 6 months before the DoD decides what
            to do, and perhaps this will be hot news at Tri-Ada'97 in Nov.

    "Officially," the old policy remains in effect until new policy is
    coordinated by the Services.  In practice, the perception of a
    forthcoming narrowed Ada policy will probably increase the resistance
    to using Ada where there is already resistance, especially for
    application domains that are very clearly outside the "warfighting"
    scope which is the recommended new policy for Ada applicability.
    Even after high-ranking officials decide what policy change(s) they
    want to make, if any, it is a multi-month process to coordinate
    reviews and signatures throughout the DoD; thus, even if Mr. Paige
    drives a decision to accept the recommendations, new policy would
    probably not become promulgated until after his departure.

    I understand that earlier reports that the Ada Joint Program Office
    would be moved from DISA to OSD were premature:  A change is being
    considered (including a name change), but no decision has been made.

    In fact, it is still possible that the DoD response will be to
    DROP Ada altogether.  (See recommendation #3 below.)  Of course
    we hope not and do not anticipate this response, but it is still
    possible.  I presume we will get wind of this mega-recommendation's
    fate long before policy is signed out.

    My personal opinion is that recommendation #4 (for a Software
    Engineering Plan Review) will eventually become the most important
    legacy of this study, if the recommendations are adopted; it is even
    possible that if the Ada requirement is dropped altogether, #4 will
    be accepted (sooner or later).  This recommendation is much bigger
    than the Ada issue  --  note that full title of the study is
    "Ada and BEYOND:  Software Policies for the Department of Defense."
    Many of us hope and believe that Ada is a good fit w/ architecture,
    reuse, and evolvability/maintenance etc. considerations for many
    kinds of systems, and that this will be perceived during SEPRs.
    I believe that if SEPRs are done totally & objectively,
    Ada will be the chosen programming language a healthy share of the
    time, and C or C++ will also be chosen often  --  HOWEVER, I also
    believe these criteria for fit in an integrated review of software
    technologies will turn out to be somewhat different than the
    "warfighting domain" criterion.  With a legacy of a minimum 50M Ada
    SLOC deployed in current systems (out of approx. 130M SLOC total
    all PLs in what was admittedly a partial survey done by IDA reported in
    the NRC study), an SEPR for major system upgrades should often find
    Ada the most effective choice for evolutions or spin-offs of systems
    currently implemented in Ada  --  warfighting or not.

That's what I know and what I think today.

        -- Hal


ABSTRACT: In 1996, the Department of Defense asked the National
Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct
a study concerning the continued viability of using Ada.  The study
committee's recent report provides interesting, controversial, and
mixed findings.  Its recommendations (which are intended to be only
for the DoD) can be distilled into four major points:
(1)  Use Ada for warfighting software.
(2)  Drop the requirement for Ada for all other software.
(3)  Invest $15 million/year in Ada infrastructure or drop Ada altogether.
(4)  Integrate the Ada decision process into an overall Software
     Engineering Plan Review (SEPR) process.