Defense drops bomb on lofty I-CASE plan

The Defense Department is abandoning any plans to make the
Integrated Computer-Aided Software Engineering environment a mandatory DODwide standard
for software development.


Instead, the $670 million I-CASE contract held by Logicon Inc. will become an
indefinite-quantity contract for individual CASE tools and products, senior DOD and
industry officials said.


The decision is a stunning reversal for a program that was once envisioned as the grand
solution to DOD's long-standing problems with software development delays and cost
overruns.


"To continue the program as it is today will be a waste of critical dollars,"
Emmett Paige, assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications and
intelligence, said in response to questions submitted by GCN. "We will no longer buy
integration services or have someone develop and maintain software that integrates
commercial, off-the-shelf packages into this so-called integrated I-CASE package."


Government and industry sources said a November meeting between Paige and senior
members of the of the I-CASE Executive Steering Group concluded that cost, management and
performance problems made the current contract untenable.


After they learned of the problems, Paige and other senior DOD officials threatened to
terminate the contract unless Logicon agreed to a radical restructuring of I-CASE. It
received the 10-year contract in April 1994.


The I-CASE Executive Steering Group is chaired by Lt. Gen. Albert Edmonds, director of
the Defense Information Systems Agency, and the senior information resource management
executives from each of the military services, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Defense
Logistics Agency and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.


Paige said the I-CASE steering group presented him with two options: "Killing [the
I-CASE program] or converting it to an IDIQ contract where software developers could
procure the tools that are available on the Logicon contract should they choose to do so,
and providing the cost of doing so was a good deal for the U.S. government."


Industry sources said Paige delivered that ultimatum to the I-CASE program office in
Montgomery, Ala., headed by Col. Ron Casey, and that Logicon and Casey's staff are
scrambling to restructure the contract. The sources said Edmonds signed off on a draft
version of the new contract last week, but that negotiations between the Torrance, Calif.,
company and the Air Force probably will continue into 1996.


Col. Casey could not be reached for comment. But Ralph Webster, vice president and
chief financial officer at Logicon, said his company welcomed the opportunity to revise
elements of the contract specifications, especially those that have made it difficult to
add new products to the I-CASE catalog.


"We view it as a positive change because it makes it easier for users to buy off
the contract," he said. "The restructuring will provide both users and us a bit
more flexibility."


Sources close to the negotiations said the revised contract would strip Logicon of
large portions of its integration, training and program management roles, reducing it to a
reseller of CASE tools.


Paige told GCN, "If folks can buy the tools at a better price directly from
developers who are subcontractors to Logicon, then they would be free to buy them
direct."


As conceived more than five years ago, I-CASE would have implemented a single,
disciplined software development methodology across DOD and supported it with a integrated
suite of CASE tools. The goal: predictable development schedules, fewer failed projects
and the potential for large-scale software reuse.


Many observers said the decision amounts to a death warrant for the original I-CASE
vision. Paul Strassmann, the former Petangon chief information officer and an early I-CASE
champion, said DOD has all but abandoned the "underlying human strategy" of the
program.


The goal of I-CASE was "to bring DOD's internal [software development] work force
up to speed through standardized training" and adoption of a common development
process, Strassmann said.


Instead, "I-CASE has been watered down into a bazaar where you can buy
anything," said Strassman, who briefed Paige on the status of I-CASE earlier this
fall.


But other observers said the original I-CASE vision was far too ambitious and
optimistic. The program would have required thousands of DOD programmers to abandon
home-grown development practices or existing CASE applications, such as the widely used
IEF products from Texas Instruments Inc.


With I-CASE, DOD sought the bleeding edge. "Nobody in industry has been able to
implement a fully integrated CASE environment on this scale," one CASE tool vendor
said.


Concerns over costs ultimately eclipsed the worthwhile aims of the project, sources
said. Out-year costs of all major IT programs are coming under increasing scrutiny at DOD,
and the I-CASE steering group is said to have concluded that Logicon's long-term program
management costs were too high compared to expected benefits.


Plus, sources said the ESG also received many complaints that CASE tools on the Logicon
contract were too expensive, especially when hosted on the required Sun Microsystems Inc.
workstations.


"People don't want to buy into Logicon's integrated tool suite," one industry
source said. "They want to pick the tools they like and run them on their own
platforms."


Under the current I-CASE contract, vendors who want to add products to the catalog must
first integrate them into Logicon's proprietary Logicore software engineering environment
and data repository. The I-CASE Configuration Control Board (CCB), composed of I-CASE
project representatives from the services and DOD agencies, can veto new product requests
if its members conclude that a new product is not fully integrated into Logicore.


Logicon's effort to add Texas Instruments' IEF products to the contract has dragged on
for nearly a year, partly because the CCB has demanded that IEF be fully integrated into
Logicore before it is made available.


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