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Harry Joiner <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 14 Mar 1997 14:04:59 -0500
TEXT/PLAIN (53 lines)
Amen, Robert.  You have again eloquently described the critical aspects of
the problem.

Regards, Harry Joiner

On Fri, 14 Mar 1997, Robert Firth wrote:

> Folks
>
> As you probably recall, I've been unhappy with the "Ada Mandate" for
> many, many years.  I'm also in the camp that says the customer should
> decide the WHAT, and the contractor should decide the HOW.  If the
> customer wants reliability and maintainability, then if Ada is indeed
> the best means to effect these ends, Ada will be chosen.  And if Ada
> is *not* the best means, it won't be chosen, which is exactly right.
>
> However, that said, the present situation finds me deeply distressed.
> For I believe that what is going to happen is that the DoD will abandon
> its insistence on the HOW, and replace it, not with an insistence on
> the WHAT, but rather with nothing.
>
> Will future software products delivered to the DoD be assessed for
> reliability, maintainability, and the other *essential* -ilitites?
> I rather think not.  I see no evidence that the DoD has any competence
> in such assessments, nor much evidence it even realises it *needs*
> such competence, and very badly.
>
> Even if such products were assessed, would the assesment have teeth?
> Can we really visualise the DoD rejecting a software product that
> bears a billion dollars of sunk cost, merely because it doesn't work?
> Look at the track record.  Even within the Ada world, how many cases
> can we all cite of DoD funded developments that continued to eat funding
> long after it was palpably obvious they would never work?
>
> Again, I fear that such projects will be deemed "too big to fail", "too
> critical to fail", "too visible to fail", and the assessment will be
> fudged to allow us to pretend that failure is success.
>
> If the Ada mandate is to be abandoned, it must be replaced with something
> *more* effective at ensuring the DoD receives software that has the
> attributes necessary to support its mission.  In particular, the software
> acceptance criteria must be comprehensive, rigorous, *and enforced by an
> independent authority*.  An authority with the power, and the clout,
> of, for instance, the range safety officer at a missile test station.
>
> Without at least this much, I fear we are indeed heading back into
> the quagmire.
>
> Yours
> Robert Firth
>
>

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