Summit Calls for 'National Software Strategy'

'Software 2015' Program Addresses 'Unacceptable Risks and Consequences of

Software Failure'

May 05, 2005, 01:00 ET from Center for National Software Studies

    RESTON, Va., May 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The findings and recommendations of the
 2nd National Software Summit (NSS2) were announced today by the Center for
 National Software Studies (CNSS) at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
 The report, entitled "Software 2015:  A National Software Strategy to Ensure
 U.S. Security and Competitiveness," lays out a ten-year program to address
 what the summit participants concluded are "unacceptable risks" associated
 with the nation's dependence on software in virtually all of its critical
     "This is a very important report that merits attention at the highest
 levels of government, industry and academia," said Dr. Alan Salisbury,
 president of the CNSS and chair of the recent software summit.  "For far too
 long we have simply accepted poor quality software as a fact of life.  The
 real facts are that we know how to build much better software today, and we
 need to invest in even better software engineering for the future," he added.
 As an Army Major General, Salisbury had responsibility for all of the U.S.
 Army's software, both on and off the battlefield.
     The report notes that software today is truly ubiquitous and is the
 linchpin of the information technology that underlies such critical
 infrastructures as the nation's power grid, the communications grid, the
 transportation system and the financial infrastructure.  "And when that
 dependence is balanced against the current state of software quality and
 reliability, it is fair to conclude that we are truly a nation at risk of
 unacceptable consequences of software failure" in such key areas as:
     -- Risk of critical infrastructure failures
     -- Risk of sudden and severe economic loss
     -- Risk of loss of life and limb
     -- Risk of loss of public confidence
     Several significant software failures in recent years are noted as
 examples, from the shutdown of a carrier's long distance telephone network, to
 medical equipment releasing fatal doses of radiation, to the enormous
 disruptions caused by viruses and worms that exploit software defects.  "As if
 to add emphasis to the point, an airline's entire fleet was recently grounded
 and thousands of passengers were stranded over the 2004 holiday season thanks
 to a relatively simple software bug involving the overflow of a counter."
     Underlying such failures are two critical gaps:  "The first gap is between
 what we require in software tools and technology to routinely develop
 error-free software and the current state-of-art. The second gap is between
 the current state-of-art and the state-of-practice within the software
 industry."  With regard to the second gap, the report goes on to say, "Simply
 stated, far too great a segment of the industry is failing to apply proven
 approaches and techniques that could improve the quality of software products
 by an order of magnitude or more!"
     Noting the increasing trends toward offshore outsourcing, and the
 dwindling numbers of students majoring in computer science and related IT
 fields, the report also expresses concern that "we face another gap of equal
 importance related to our global competitiveness.  The rapid increase in
 high-quality, low-wage offshore software sources makes it imperative that
 special attention be paid to software workforce skill shortage and wage
 issues, to our willingness to invest in maintaining technological leadership,
 and to the need to nurture and stimulate our national capacity for
     The key recommendation of the report is that software needs to be elevated
 to the national policy agenda.  With this in mind, the report calls for the
 pursuit of a National Software Strategy (NSS) through public-private
 partnerships involving government, industry and academia, with the vision of
 "Achieving the ability to routinely develop and deploy trustworthy software
 products and systems, while ensuring the continued competitiveness of the U.S.
 software industry."   The NSS includes eleven new initiatives, each consisting
 of one or more detailed tasks, within four major program areas:
     -- Improving Software Trustworthiness
     -- Educating and Fielding the Software Workforce
     -- Re-Energizing Software Research and Development
     -- Encouraging Innovation Within the U.S. Software Industry
     Finally, the "Software 2015" report provides for continuing oversight and
 follow-up of the National Software Strategy through the establishment of a
 National Software Strategy Steering Group (NSG), including representatives
 from more than a dozen professional societies, academic groups, non-profit
 organizations and government agencies.  The NSG is expected to convene future
 summits approximately every three years to track progress toward the stated
     The Software 2015 Report makes a compelling case for the urgent need to
 address critical software issues and problems that pose serious risks to the
 nation's security and economic well-being and calls on the nation's leaders in
 all sectors, government, industry and academia, to commit to working together
 to achieve these common goals.
     The complete report of the software summit can be found at .
     About NSS2
     With the theme "Software:  The Critical Infrastructure Within the Critical
 Infrastructures," NSS2 convened over 80 senior executives from government,
 industry, and academia to assess the state of software quality, software
 technology and the software industry.  The summit was co-sponsored by the CNSS
 along with the Council on Competitiveness, the Information Technology
 Association of America (ITAA), the Northern Virginia Technology Council
 (NVTC), the IEEE Reliability Society and the Software Productivity Consortium
 (now the Systems and Software Consortium, Inc.).  Keynote speakers included
 Hon. Phillip Bond, Undersecretary of Commerce for Technology; Dr. Alan Merten,
 President of George Mason University; John Chen, CEO of Sybase, Inc.; Amit
 Yoran, Director of the National Cyber Security Division, DHS:  and Dr. Bill
 Wulf, President of the National Academy of Engineering.
     About the CNSS
     Headquartered in the Washington D.C. area, the Center for National
 Software Studies (CNSS) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to
 elevate software to the national agenda, and to provide objective expertise,
 studies and recommendations on national software issues.  More information
 about the Center is available at

SOURCE Center for National Software Studies