Army center climbs CMMI mountain

The Army's Fire Support Software Engineering Center in Fort Sill, Okla., is the first Defense Department unit to reach Level 5 of the Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model for Integration.

On Aug. 6, the center finally reached the top level of the CMMI product suite for software process improvement after 11 years of hard work, said Maj. William 'Rad' Lee, field artillery executive officer at the center. Lee said it took about a year for the center to complete the final software appraisal process.

'It's really a big deal,' Lee said. 'We're the first agency in DOD that has reached Level 5.'

The center, a branch of the Army Communications-Electronic Command at Fort Monmouth, N.J., designs software and provides upgrades, Lee said.

The Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University developed CMMI for systems and software engineering as a follow-on to the older CMM model, which will be phased out later this year. (Click for Aug. 1 GCN coverage)

The 16-year-old CMM specified five levels of software development expertise. Level 5 is supposed to indicate very repeatable work processes and excellent project management. At least one federal software shop, Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, has claimed Level 5 CMM expertise. But because of the volume of software-development outsourcing, mostly private-sector organizations have pursued Level 5. (Click for Aug. 12, 2002 GCN coverage)

CMMI extends the process improvement goals of CMM to software engineering techniques and principles. Its adherents aim for consistency, uniformity, standardization and lack of contradiction among their documents and software products.

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