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.
DoD Software Science and Technology Strategy
Establish SWE practices that deliver warfighting capability rapidly through a disciplined process of continuous iterative development.
Provide SWE expertise and mentorship across the Department to advance the state of SWE practices, reduce software risk, and guide the SWE workforce.
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 emergent software technologies to accelerate the pace of software development to support the demands of the National Defense Strategy.
Provide recommendations related to software development policy, software organizational structures, specialized workforce competencies, culture, training, tools, and practices.
Communities and Working Groups
DAU DevSecOps Academy Video Series
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)
Send an email to Engineering/Software Engineering.
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense,
Research and Engineering (USD(R&E))
The Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301
Information for the USD(R&E):
Email OUSD(R&E) Staff
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