By Bill Scherlis,
Chief Technology Officer (Acting)
The extent of software in Department of Defense (DoD) systems has increased by more than an order of magnitude every decade. This is not just because there are more systems with more software; a similar growth pattern has been exhibited within individual, long-lived military systems. In recognition of this growing software role, the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E, now ASD(R&E)) requested the National Research Council (NRC) to undertake a study of defense software producibility, with the purpose of identifying the principal challenges and developing recommendations regarding both improvement to practice and priorities for research. The NRC appointed a committee, which I chaired, that included many individuals well known to the SEI community, including Larry Druffel, Doug Schmidt, Robert Behler, Barry Boehm, and others. After more than three years of effort—which included an intensive review and revision process—we issued our final report, Critical Code: Software Producibility for Defense. In the year and a half since the report was published, I have been asked to brief it extensively to the DoD and the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) communities.
This blog posting, the first in a series, highlights several of the committee’s key findings, specifically focusing on three areas of identified improvements to practice—areas where the committee judged that improvements both are feasible and could substantially help the DoD to acquire, sustain, and assure software-reliant systems of all kinds.