Army’s $200 Billion Reboot Fizzles; Murtha Wants $20 Billion More

– This story doesn’t amaze me at all. Having spent most of my career developing software, I’ve long believed that we humans can easily conceive of projects too complex for us to manifest. The first one I personally recall was the FAA’s project to reinvent the air traffic control system in the late 70’s. It crashed and burned amazingly.

– From my POV, a lot of the the problem is that too many people in the industry place their faith in software development methodologies and seem to forget that at each point in the process, a bright human being has be able to see, think through and understand everything important at that level.

– Well I remember having software development methodologies imposed on me at Motorola back in 2000 & 2001. It got so one couldn’t make a small and obvious change to three lines of code without calling three other engineers to a 30 minute meeting and talking about the change and then filling out a lot of paperwork. To me, it began to seem like fulfilling the requirements of the process began to be more important than making smart, robust and reliable software.  It got easier and easier to lose the big picture as more and more cover-their-ass methodology was layered on.

– These folks seemed to believe that you could take a lot of mediocre programmers and force them through the procedure and out the other end would come high quality software. I think they also liked the idea because it promised to reduce the corporation’s dependence on bright key programmers. With the methodology in place, they believed that programmers would just become pluggable widgets and could be obtained and let go as needed with impunity.

– Yeah right!   We’ll let the results speak for themselves.

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The Army’s gargantuan digital modernization plan has turned so rotten, a new congressional report says it’s time to start thinking about killing off the effort, and looking for new alternatives. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania), the powerful head of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, has another plan: Pump another $20 billion into the sickly, $200 billion behemoth “Future Combat Systems” before it drops dead under its own weight.

Future Combat Systems, or FCS, is the Army’s effort to use software and computer networks to turn itself into a quicker, lighter, more-lethal force by 2017. The vision is for fleets of new armored vehicles, ground robots and flying drones to be linked together by a wireless internet for combat, and by a common operating system. But FCS has been in trouble, almost since the day it began, with slipped deadlines, bloated budgets, unproven technologies and unrealistic expectations.


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