Relating Criteria to Objectives

DOD increasingly is emphasizing the concept of "information dominance" as a key to military superiority (Powell, 1992; DOD, 1996d). Secretary of Defense William Perry has stated that "…our warfighting strategy sustains and builds ... on the application of information technology to gain great military leverage to continue to give us [an] unfair competitive advantage" (Perry, 1996a).1 Since software development is a fundamental aspect of information technology, an appropriate objective for DOD software policy is to ensure that DOD software enables systems that are superior to any that an adversary might develop, thus affording DOD a competitive advantage.

Achieving superiority in software and information technology for military purposes requires attention to situation-dependent mixes of functionality and other attributes. In an electronic warfare countermeasure/counter-countermeasure competition, rapid and reliable modification of software is a critical capability. To thwart information system penetration, subversion, and threatened denial of service, computer security is paramount. Performance is critical for processing of wideband sensor data. Safety is critical to controlling the course of weapons. Interoperability is critical for joint operations. And for all DOD systems, DOD's budget limitations make cost critical.

It would be convenient if these criteria could be combined into a single "DOD return on investment" index. Alternative policies could then be evaluated definitively with respect to this composite criterion. However, decades of policy analysis have led to the conclusion that such combined analyses are feasible only in the context of particular military scenarios (Quade, 1964; Quade and Boucher, 1968). This creates two equally difficult problems-aggregating the results from multiple scenarios, and evaluating the relevance of the scenarios in a rapidly changing world.

Given this situation, a useful approach is to identify the critical criteria most relevant to DOD's achieving information dominance, to evaluate Ada and alternative programming languages with respect to these criteria, and to base conclusions and recommendations on a judgment-based weighting of the criteria. Given the objective of having superior software, such evaluation must consider the effect of DOD programming language choices both on DOD itself and on its adversaries.

Critical Criteria in DOD's Selection of a Programming Language

As pointed out in "Economics of Software Engineering" in Chapter 2, software cost-modeling has shown that the criteria of software functionality, cost, and speed of development can be related to other criteria that are more closely coupled to choice of programming language. These determinants are software size, process, development environment, and personnel. Additional criteria for assessing software quality that are crucial in supporting DOD's critical missions and ability to respond rapidly to changes include high-assurance and real-time performance, a set that covers reliability, security, safety, survivability, and real-time performance; and ease of change, a capability that enables rapid-response to changes in threats, technology, or mission requirements.

Besides the individual production factors involving software tools, technology, and personnel, an even stronger determinant of international competitive advantage in information dominance is the existence of a socio-technical infrastructure, which couples the production factors with knowledge resources, marketing channels, strategic partnerships, user groups, closely linked customer-supplier chains, and trends in domestic demand, thus stimulating innovation and enabling rapid development of new software products. Porter's (1990) analysis of the significance of a strong national socio-technical infrastructure in determining the competitive standing of an industry or a service sector supports consideration of the socio-technical infrastructure's role in the warfighting sector also.

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