BLS, Census and DEA gear up to improve software

BLS, Census and DEA gear up to improve software

Pragma Systems claims processMax product guarantees compliance with Level 3 of the Capability Maturity Model

Three agencies have bought processMax software project management tools from Pragma Systems Corp. of Reston, Va., to move up the scale of the Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model.

The Census Bureau and Drug Enforcement Administration have each bought 100 copies of Pragma's processMax3 tool, which comes with a guarantee that organizations using it will comply with Level 3 of the CMM for software.

Bob Marks, head of Census' Geography Division, said his software developers are not yet at Level 2'maybe only Level 1 or lower.

'We want to see if it's the appropriate product to get us where we want to be,' he said, whether that turns out to be Level 2 or 3. 'We'll try it on a few small projects. Our goal is a robust enough software process to manage change.'

The mature elite

The highest CMM levels, 4 and 5, indicate well-managed and reliable development processes. Only a few software shops in the world, such as that at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, have attained Level 5. Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is at Level 4. Defense Department contractors in general must reach Level 3.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics bought 250 copies of processMax2, which guarantees compliance with CMM Level 2 for repeatable software processes.

Sean Curran, BLS' director of software improvement, said there are several hundred developers at the bureau besides the managers who are the primary users of processMax2.

BLS systems are 'home-grown'we do almost all of our development in-house' for the Consumer Price Index, unemployment and other statistics, Curran said. The bureau last month redesigned its Web site, at, for greater accessibility and that work also was done in-house, he said.

ProcessMax runs on a Web server to keep software managers working from the same policies and templates. It serves as an online repository for project documents. It comes in Microsoft Windows, Unix and Mac OS versions.

Rebecca Bowerman, Pragma's president and chief executive officer, said the BLS and Census purchases were from a General Services Administration IT schedule contract.

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