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Measuring Software Quality: A Case Study
November 1996 (vol. 29 no. 11)
pp. 78-87

Over the years, the National Security Agency has become extremely dependent on the software that makes up its information technology infrastructure. NSA has come to view software as a critical resource upon which much of the world's security, prosperity, and economic competitiveness increasingly rest. If anything, dependence on software and its corresponding effect on national security makes it imperative for NSA to accept and maintain only the highest quality software. Cost overruns or software systems that are defective or of low quality can impose a significant burden on national security and NSA's mission. NSA is no more immune than the rest of the software industry to the problems of low-quality software. Software development is intensely manual in nature, and it inevitably falls victim to rushed schedules, constantly changing requirements, poor process, and failure to adhere to software engineering practices. So what is NSA doing about software quality? The NSA's Software Engineering Applied Technology Center has done metrics analysis on some 25 million lines of code. The result is a highly correlated set of measures that we have developed into a streamlined set of code-level release criteria that we apply to code written at NSA organizations. The author describes these critical measures and has drawn up a case study to illustrate the benefits of applied quality assurance and code-level measurement activities.

Citation:
Thomas Drake, "Measuring Software Quality: A Case Study," Computer, vol. 29, no. 11, pp. 78-87, Nov. 1996, doi:10.1109/2.544241
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