DOD's Money blasts U.S. software industry

DOD's Money blasts U.S. software industry

CIO Arthur L. Meney

By Bill Murray
GCN Staff

The Defense Department's chief information officer this month ripped commercial software companies, calling most of the products DOD is receiving 'absolute crap.'

'In most cases, there is not enough quality built in,' said Arthur L. Money, the special assistant to the Defense secretary for command, control, communications and intelligence. He spoke at the Air Force Communications and Electronics Association's GovTechNet conference in Washington.

Regardless of what other people want to buy, 'DOD wants to buy quality,' he said.
Bad news

'When we buy a product, we find more holes in it and vulnerabilities than we can possibly stop up. That is not good news,' Money said.

He predicted that if the U.S. software industry does not resolve the bugginess problem, it will lose jobs to overseas companies, much as some electronics industries have.

To save money on acquisition, software development and support, DOD organizations have bought more commercial products in recent years, with the Navy choosing Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, for example, as a standard for the service's Information Technology for the 21st Century initiative.

Money did not criticize any specific vendors but said the problem is general and sweeping.

Security should be built into software from the beginning of the development process, not as an afterthought, Money said. DOD organizations bypass many products with inadequate security features, he said.

Interoperability is also a problem, he said, noting that data exchanges between allied forces in Kosovo were not quite as good as they should have been. In some cases, seven iterations were required to get information from one place to another.

Money also challenged industry to set firm standards for products such as smart cards, which DOD officials are eager to buy and use if they can meet the department's requirements.

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