Software is critical to national security, an integral part of every Department of Defense (DoD) weapon system, and vital to future battlefield dominance. Software is a key element in all advanced warfighting systems and a driver of system performance, capability, security, functionality, complexity, and development risk.

The purpose of Software Engineering (SWE) is to influence processes for software and system architecture, design, and development to increase the rate of newly fielded mission capabilities. Properly planned SWE processes can mitigate cost and schedule risks by allowing programs to identify and remove software-related technical debt early in development. This early action can increase acquisition efficiency and lead to higher success rates during operational testing and the continuing development process.

Software has become ubiquitous and increasingly significant to every warfighting system. Nevertheless, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)) continues to observe systemic software development challenges across major programs, especially in the most advanced systems. Both the Defense Science Board (DSB) and the Defense Innovation Board (DIB) have delivered studies and recommendations on how DoD develops and acquires software-intensive systems. They observe that “software is never done” and that the lack of high-quality, mature software is a bottleneck to delivering timely capability to the Warfighter. Such findings have resulted in valuable changes in public law, acquisition policy, and workforce development.

Recent rapid advances in SWE skills, technology, and modern software development practices (including but not limited to Agile/DevSecOps approaches, automation, pipelines, tools, metrics, continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment) have proved successful in a competitive commercial marketplace. To leverage commercial best practices, however, the Department must update acquisition policies and processes, modernize culture and workforce competencies, and provide enterprise-wide solutions to keep pace with modern advances in software development.

Strategic Direction

Establish

Establish SWE practices that deliver warfighting capability rapidly through a disciplined process of continuous iterative development.

Provide

Provide SWE expertise and mentorship across the Department to advance the state of SWE practices, reduce software risk, and guide the SWE workforce.

Shape

Establish key competencies to shape a SWE workforce that can rapidly deliver the software in emerging critical technologies such as machine learning, data science, cybersecurity, and autonomous systems.

Leverage

Leverage emergent software technologies to accelerate the pace of software development to support the demands of the National Defense Strategy.

Provide

Provide recommendations related to software development policy, software organizational structures, specialized workforce competencies, culture, training, tools, and practices.

Communities and Working Groups

DSB

Defense Science Board

DIB

Defense Innovation Board

DIB SWAP WG

Defense Innovation Board Software Acquisition and Practices Working Group (aka Software Modernization Working Group)

DEWG

Digital Engineering Working Group

NDIA

National Defense Industrial Association Continuous Iterative Development in Acquisition Working Group

SEI ACG

SEI Agile Collaboration Group

DIU

Defense Innovation Unit

PSM

Practical Software Measurement

ICOTE

NDIA Industrial Committee on Test and Evaluation

DAU

Defense Acquisition University DevSecOps Academy

SAPOW

Software Acquisition for the Program Office Workforce CLE078

DoD SwA CoP

DoD Software Assurance Community of Practice (CAC only)

Navy SW CoP

Navy Software Community of Practice

JFAC

Joint Federated Assurance Center

Resources

R&E Software Engineering Guidebook
  • Coming soon
National Defense Authorization Act
  • John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2019
P.L. 116-92
  • National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2020 (P.L. 116-92)
AF CSO
  • Air Force Chief Software Officer
DIB SWAP
  • Software Is Never Done, Defense Innovation Board Software Acquisition and Practices Main Report, 2019
Developer’s Guidebook
  • DoD Developer’s Guidebook for Software Assurance
SOAR for Software Vulnerability Detection, Test, and Validation
  • State-of-the-Art Resources for Software Vulnerability Detection, Test, and Validation
SWEBOK
  • Software Engineering Body of Knowledge
Design and Acquisition of Software
  • The Design and Acquisition of Software for Defense Systems, February 2018.
DevSecOps
  • DoD DevSecOps Reference Design
HMC
  • Hanscom Mil Cloud
HPC
  • High-Performance Computing
Software Acquisition Workforce Initiative
  • Software Acquisition Workforce Initiative for the Department of Defense: Initial Competency Development and Preparation for Validation

Definitions

Agile or continuous iterative development, in which a team develops software in smaller blocks that can be incrementally evaluated by a user community.

Download Defense Science Board (PDF)

CONTACT US

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USD(R&E)

DDR&E(AC)

Directorate of Defense Research and
Engineering for Advanced Capabilities
The Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301