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The importance of software in defense systems continues to intensify as new systems emerge in response to increasing threats and declining force levels. The need to manage this software as a critical component of defense systems over their life cycle is becoming widely recognized. A general awareness of this need as an institutional problem requiring special attention within the Office of the Secretary of Defense has been growing as software problems have reached top level defense management visibility with increasing regularity. Software costs are continuing to multiply in step with advancing weapons systems sophistication, and opportunities for cost avoidance now are leveraged against large dollar investments. These conditions characterize the computer industry at large, but very little overall focus has been visible to improve the software development process. Consequently, the Department of Defense (DoD) has undertaken a two part effort to accelerate both near-term and long-term improvements in software development for weapons system applications. These efforts, the establishment of software life cycle management policy and practices, and the vigorous development and application of new software technology are discussed in considerable depth.