2005-10-12

And this guy's an "expert"?

On Tuesday, former White House "cybersecurity advisor" Howard Schmidt suggested that developers should be held personally accountable for software flaws. "We need individual accountability from developers for end-to-end solutions," he is quoted as saying.

It is scary that someone who held such an influential position in politics regarding information security is so clearly lacking a fundamental understanding of the process by which software is released. Accountability is a major problem right now in the software industry, but blaming the coders is a terrible approach. When I did some work as an engineer, it became quickly apparent to me how easily management decisions (and even promises made by marketing/PR departments) could compromise the quality of my work. Unreasonable or constantly changing priorities and timelines can easily degrade the quality of any employee's work, whether in the software industry or otherwise. And poorly-implemented software development life-cycle models, which are often controlled by a programmer's employer, can also allow buggy code to make it to final release.

There are so many factors, and people, involved in software development that it's unreasonable to hold individuals accountable. Only by holding companies that develop sofware accountable will we begin to see an increase in software quality.

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