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Mike Stark <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 19 Dec 2000 09:52:28 -0500
text/plain (37 lines)
Folks --

I believe a couple of things are at work here

1.  What Tom DeMarco in Peopleware characterized as "Quality -- If Time
Permits".  "Faster, Better, Cheaper" has been a mantra around NASA for many
years now -- safety has been added to the mantra only AFTER the embarassing
failures.  The concept of "Internet time" hasn't helped here -- aerospace
applications simply should not be developed as rapidly as Web applications
-- you don't want your users to be beta testers in THIS arena!  This
culture of rushing releases rather than assuring a safe, reliable product
is a management issue.  Blaming engineers for conforming to an
organization's culture isn't going to solve any problem.  The important
thing is for management to change the cultural mindset.

2.  A belief in silver bullets -- Ada was one once, but the world has moved
on and we may be better off for it.  COTS has been the in thing over the
last few years at NASA, and now the major initiative is for the Agency to
reach CMM level 3 -- not necessarily a bad idea, but the contractors that
failed on the Mars missions were probably at level 3 as well, so it is not
a sufficient condition.

I do sympathize with what Ron says towards the end about Ada  decisions
(and many others, IMHO) being made on utterly false data and assumptions.
It has happened to me once or twice in my nearly 20 year career at NASA ;)

Mike

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Michael Stark                                                   Director,
Software Engineering Laboratory
Phone: (301) 286-5048                                Code 581
Fax:    (301) 286-5719                                 Greenbelt, MD 20771
e-mail: [log in to unmask]            web:
http://www.cs.umd.edu/~mstark
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