Murphy's Law: Defective Software and Security


September 8, 2005

Another casualty of the war on terror is the development of high tech gear for the CIA and Department of Defense. With so many more new people being hired for the war on terror, and most of them requiring security clearances, the governments ability to do background checks, and grant those clearances, has not kept up. Since the counter-terrorism organizations get priority on new clearances, the companies that need clearances for programmers and other technical people, are finding themselves waiting longer and longer. Last year, some 70 percent of defense contractors had many cases of  waiting up to nine months for clearances. This year, its up to 80 percent. Getting someone pushed to the head of the queue takes lots of clout. Not all projects have this kind of clout, and you cant use people for classified work unless they have the proper clearance. So there are delays. Some contractors get around this by offering bonuses to applicants who already have the right security clearances. Thus some techies are betting up to 25 percent more money than they usually would, simply because they have the right clearances. This has other effects, which are not much talked about. Often the best people for a particular job cannot be hired, because the government wants the product ASAP, and that means you have to take whoever is qualified (on paper) and has a clearance. For many design and programming jobs, this can have very negative long range effects. Having the second (or worse) best people creating your software will usually result in a less reliable, less capable and more expensive (in the long run, with all the subsequent patches) product. Years from now, many defective military items (hardware and software), will be blamed, with some justification, on the security clearance bottleneck currently underway. The bottleneck has proven resistant to any solution, and will apparently continue for some time.


Article Archive

Murphy's Law: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close