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Tying Together the Best Individual Intellectual Efforts
As Delivered by Emmett Paige Jr., assistant secretary of defense, command, control, communications and intelligence, Software Technology Management Conference, Santa Barbara, Calif., , Wednesday, March 06, 1996

U.S. warfighters have enough to do with their missions. They don't have the time or resources to learn to use or fix software


Volume 11, Number 17


Tying Together the Best Individual Intellectual Efforts

Address by Emmett Paige Jr., assistant secretary of defense, command, control, communications and intelligence, at the Software Technology Management Conference, Santa Barbara, Calif., March 6, 1996.

It is indeed a pleasure to be asked to speak with you this morning. Software technology management is a field ripe with opportunities for improvement and advancement of the state of the art and the state of practice.

I can think of nothing more important than improvement in software development today as we reach out to exploit the electronics technology that the revolution continues to thrust into our hands. It challenges us -- as no other field has ever before -- to tie together in a cohesive and coherent fashion the efforts of the best individual intellectual efforts from around the world.

Your selection of speakers, except for me, and topics selected for this conference reflects these massive and advanced efforts. What I would like to speak about are the expectations that DoD has of the software industry as a whole, and I include academia as a vital partner with industry in this matter. Our expectations are high, but I found out long ago that you should never lower your expectations to the level that can readily be attained. It takes perseverance and ingenuity and a willingness to depart from traditional ways.

An individual who exemplified high expectations was President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He challenged us "to move forward to greater freedom, to greater security for average (folks) than (they) have ever known before in the history of America." The financial safety net that he put into place has saved the lives of many of our poor and our elderly. That was then, this is now.

It behooves us to move on with all due speed to put into place an information safety net to improve our economy, advance the educational opportunities for individuals from all walks of life and keep our citizens informed. Improving our software development and the reliability of that software will go a long way in helping us to build and maintain a competitive advantage in the world market and continue to provide a competitive advantage to our military forces.

The national information infrastructure efforts, led by Vice President [Al] Gore, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to being able to share knowledge. All parts of our government must work together with industry to make this dream a reality.

I am very pleased with the recent enactment of telecommunications reform. In his State of the Union address this year, President Clinton urged Congress to pass this legislation. I was pleased when Congress responded so positively.

The telecommunications act breaks down old, artificial barriers between information service providers. The way we have been doing business has been based on laws that have been on the books for 62 years. The new law will open up information technologies as never before for consumers and business customers -- and DoD is about the biggest single customer that American business will ever have.

We all know what comes from increased competition. It usually means improved service at lower cost, and we in DoD can use more of both.

For the foreseeable future, we in DoD will be called upon to perform more numerous and varied missions. And we will continue to face resource levels that are, at best, austere. And we will be called upon more than ever before to enter into coalitions with other nations to achieve our goals, be they economic or military. Our telecommunications and information infrastructure must be open and flexible enough to meet these international requirements.

But we all know that it doesn't matter what the private sector can offer if DoD can't get to it. This has been particularly frustrating when it comes to new information technologies.

Secretary [of Defense William J.] Perry has given reform of the acquisition process a high priority. Unneeded military standards hopefully will soon become a thing of the past. We are not there yet, but I am here to tell you that we are indeed serious to make it happen.

We need your help to make it happen. We need you, the people out on the line where the rubber meet the road, to challenge military specifications and standards whenever you see them in any of our RFPs [requests for proposal]. Together, we can decrease the cost of maintaining our military as the best equipped, most modern, most potent fighting force in the history of mankind. President Clinton and Dr. Perry are determined to maintain our fighting forces as the best equipped, best trained military force in the world.

I am working with the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and technology and the director of operational test and evaluation to streamline the DoD acquisition oversight process. And we are all working with the Office of Management and Budget and Congress to get legal roadblocks removed.

The DoD Authorization Act for FY [fiscal year] 1996 is an example of what can be done when all parties work together for the common good. Contained within the Defense Authorization Act is the Information Technology Management Reform Act.

The reform act applies to all federal agencies, not just the Department of Defense. It repeals the Brooks Act. It does away with the GSA [General Services Administration] Board of Contract Appeals. It allows for modular acquisition and implementation of large information systems. It is long overdue.

This is not to say that anarchy will reign. For DoD, I can tell you that this will not be the case. We will not replicate the oversight system that is being abolished. We will rather use common sense and a departmentwide approach to information technology acquisitions.

Just to clarify the scope of what I'm talking about, we in DoD include development as part of acquisition. So I anticipate that the new legislation will have great impact in the way that DoD buys and that vendors provide software and hardware products and services.

There will be a learning curve on both sides. We will need to retrain our downsized government acquisition work force, and vendors face a similar retraining task. This will not just be retraining on procedures.

We all need to work towards the real cultural change of improving mutual trust. We absolutely must encourage and foster increased communications between vendors or industry and our defense program managers for all of the software and hardware systems that we acquire.

Each of [us] must work together and be practical visionaries -- to strive to do the best we can do, while pushing and pressing toward common goals. In the case of DoD, our goal is to provide the best possible support for our warfighters. We cannot ever lose sight of that goal, and I would like to talk about the role of software in reaching that goal.

Within the realm of managing software efforts, we absolutely must have mature software development processes. And we also need from industry a commitment to increased predictability concerning software products. By that I mean that we need to get quality software deliverables on time, at reasonable costs, with the required level of reliability.

Software systems development and life-cycle maintenance continue to be among the most costly and difficult tasks that we have to cope with. It is not something that plagues DoD any more than it does the commercial sector and other federal, state or local government agencies. We all suffer from the same afflictions in software.

The development task always costs more money and takes more time than initially estimated, with rare exceptions. The operations and maintenance phase of the life cycle always costs more than initially estimated.

So it is very important that we continue to try and focus more management attention to software than we have today and improving the process. There are no "silver bullets," or at least none have been found yet.

What we would like to find are more commercial off-the-shelf software products that are secure and reliable. Whenever DoD must acquire software, COTS software is always our first choice.

I maintain that our best posture is to insist that market- driven, commercial off-the-shelf software be used by DoD whenever and wherever we can adapt it or adapt to it in terms of our operating or business processes to do our jobs.

We must use it smartly so that we can continue to evolve as that commercial market driven application is improved. We can then relieve ourselves of most of the life-cycle operations and maintenance costs.

However, when we must bear the expense of developing software applications and maintaining that code over the life cycle of our systems, which are typically long, we should use ADA -- as we have found nothing else that does a better job of reducing our operations and maintenance costs while improving the overall quality and portability.

Quality includes security. We are placing higher priority on our information security initiatives, and this increased emphasis is shown in our increases in funding levels for these programs for the immediate and foreseeable future. Security, like quality, is something that must be designed and built into our systems. It cannot be achieved at a reasonable cost as an afterthought.

Protection of information is a high priority, and so is harmonization. We have set into motion the mechanism to establish a single, unifying DoD technical architecture that will become binding on all future DoD C4I [command, control, communications, computers and intelligence] acquisitions and development efforts.

We need to have systems that are born joint and interoperable. Achieving true jointness of our military systems, which includes weapon systems and information systems, is a major hurdle in implementing many of our national security strategies.

We in DoD expect that industry will increase the availability of reusable assets, and I am personally convinced that we have not scratched the surface in terms of the possibilities for software reuse. This includes software architectures, designs and code. Our software must be platform- independent.

As Secretary Perry has pointed out, our fighting forces in the field have enough on their hands with military missions. They do not have the time or resources to handle learning how to use or repair software packages that differ from military service to military service or from one machine line to another. Our joint national security strategies include preventing wars as well as being prepared to win them, if need be. Our road in DoD is the road to peace, but that road must be blazed and paved by warfighters. Peace is only enforceable when backed by the clout of warfighting capability.

As you all know, we are using our warfighting capabilities to enforce the peace in Bosnia. Thanks to our military strength and the cooperation of our longtime allies and others, the children of Bosnia can go back to concerning themselves more with their homework and less with whether their home will be bombed.

Defense imagery data was instrumental in achieving the Dayton peace accords. The leaders of the three rival factions were taken on computer-generated tours of the country. The lines of the peace accord maps were drawn up after the negotiators had taken an almost-firsthand look at what the effects would be.

In one instance, the negotiators thought that a two-mile- wide access corridor would be sufficient. But after a 3-D tour of the area by way of computer simulation, they found that hilly terrain made a five-mile corridor more suitable. This averted a potential flashpoint during implementation of the peace accords.

The peace in Bosnia is a fragile one. But then, all human life is fragile in the face of today's weapons.

I would like to leave you with some words that FDR [Franklin D. Roosevelt] never spoke, for he died the day before he was to have delivered them. Among the words that he planned to leave us with were these: "More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginnings of all wars."

He was right. Wars are often based on lack of understanding -- not just of initial intentions, but also what the consequences might be.

Each of us here has the ability to add to the world's ability to exchange information, which will lead to more knowledge, which will lead to mutual understanding. And understanding is a key to ending the beginning of war. ...

Published for internal information use by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission. Defense Issues is available on the Internet via the World Wide Web at