Integrators boast software best practices

Northrop Grumman Corp. and Science Applications International Corp. garnered high marks for their software best practices, just days after the General Accounting Office faulted the Defense Department for lacking such practices in developing software.

Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector received a level 5 rating under the Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) standard. San Diego-based SAIC's Atlantic Programs Division received a level 3 rating.

SEI is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Defense Department. It created the CMMI standard as a guide for systematically implementing development practices that improve software quality. The standard comprises five maturity levels with an organization demonstrating increasingly more mature software processes as it moves from level 1 to level 5. Higher maturity levels signify lower risks to successful program execution.

In a report released earlier this week, GAO reported that in recent years, the Defense Department "has attributed significant cost and schedule overruns of software-intensive systems to difficulties in developing and delivering software." GAO recommended a series of best practices for developing software that the agency had observed in the commercial software industry.

The level 5 rating was Northrop Grumman's 11th such award, according to the company. Fewer than 20 companies worldwide have achieved CMMI level 5. The Space Technology division develops systems for defense and civilian agencies.

SAIC's Atlantic Programs Division supports customers at Langley Air Force Base, developing and integrating software for operations support and network control applications.

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