The provisions of PL 101-511, Section 8902 were repeated in several
budget acts through 1993. After that time, we didn't see any verbiage
in the subsequent appropriations laws. We determined that the mandate
was unenforceable, since there were no provisions in the federal
acquisition regulations mandating our contractors to do the same. While
Ada was and is a language of choice, the policy shifted toward technical
solutions at best cost-benefit. Ada does not always come in a clear
winner in that case. Where safety and data assurance issues are high,
Ada has always been our first choice. However, in cases such as small
office automation applications (for which we have many), it was more
cost effective for us to go with Visual Basic/C++ and have cleaner
interfaces with the Windows environment. Additionally, our start-up
costs were much less.
Regardless of the mandate, a good number of our critical systems are
still written in Ada. We feel that this trend will continue for the
foreseeable future. But Ada is a powerful tool in a large toolbox.
Education is the key to using it wisely.
Should there be a mandate? We've tried before and haven't been very
successful. I'll play the DoD heretic and say no to any specific
language. The mandate that should be in place is for good software
engineering processes. Good cost and size estimations, risk assessment
and abatement, use of concrete requirements analysis and design
methodologies, and fulfilling the needs stated in the requirement should
drive the technical solution.
Ada will still be considered first, however, if in the end the
cost-benefit points in another direction......
>From: Michael Feldman[SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
>Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 1997 9:09 PM
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: Ada Mandate
>> To: List
>> In this discussion of the abrogation of long-standing Ada policy,
>> I have seen no reference to Public Law 101-511, Section 8092, which
>> makes Ada the preferred programming language for the DoD. Has this
>> law been repealed? It is my understanding that once a law is passed
>> and ratified, it remains the law unless it has an explicit expiration
>> date (this one does not) or it has been repealed.
>> Richard Riehle
>As I recall, this came up a while back. The _legal_ "mandate" (As
>opposed to just DoD internal policy) appeared in an _appropriation_
>law, at the end of the law in what is normally a section of general
>provisions. Generally - in the absence of language to the contrary
>- these things run for the duration of the fiscal year (FY) covered by
>For the uninitiated, an _appropriation_ law (which, under the
>Constitution, must originate in the House) specifies the funds that
>are to be spent by an agency, for each of the agency's programs that
>have been authorized by an _authorization_ law (which can originate in the
>House or the Senate). In theory, general policy is stated in
>but Congress is not bound by that principle, and often slips general
>policy provisions into appropriations. (Anti-abortion language, for example,
>is a controversial well-known case of this.)
>Indeed, one often finds quite strange and wondrous things
>(unrelated and previously unauthorized pork, say) slipped into
>appropriations laws in the middle of the night right at the end of
>the FY when Congress is rushing to pass the stuff that keeps our
>money flowing to government programs.
>If memory serves, the first Ada clause appeared in the Oct. 1990 law,
>covering Oct. 90 - Sept. 91. But the clause was repeated at least once,
>maybe twice, more in subsequent years. This lends strength to the idea
>that Congress intends these things to cover one fiscal year at a time
>(else why bother to repeat it).
>I've just checked this general structure with a friend, who asserts
>that this should not be taken as official legal advice:-) but knows,
>generally, about legislative interpretation. My source - who knows
>little or nothing about DoD-specific stuff - said it's a pretty
>safe bet that the _legal_ policy disappeared whenever the language
>disappeared from the appropriation law. A safe bet, but not a sure thing.
>I'm no lawyer, and my friend was just giving an off-the-cuff opinion
>based on general experience with the wonders of Congress.
>If anyone on the list is _really_ concerned, they'd best dig out
>the actual laws and consult someone who can give an authoritative