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This version of SWEHB is associated with NPR 7150.2B. Click for the latest version of the SWEHB based on NPR7150.2C

SWE-129 - OCE NPR Appraisals

1. Requirements

2.1.1.4 The NASA OCE shall authorize appraisals against selected requirements in this NPR  to check compliance.

1.1 Notes

NPR 7150.2, NASA Software Engineering Requirements, does not include any notes for this requirement.


2. Rationale

The Headquarters' Office of the Chief Engineer (OCE) is responsible for promoting and monitoring software engineering practices throughout the agency. It achieves this in part by administering software requirements, policy, procedures, processes, statutes, and regulations. The Headquarters' OCE uses continuing periodic oversight of compliance at the Centers and programs/projects to verify that this responsibility is being met.

NPR 7150.2 serves as the basis for compliance appraisals for software engineering. The appraisal typically occurs during an OCE survey of a Center's processes and directives and through examinations of a project's official records. These surveys are one of the tools used by the OCE to provide oversight, to maintain internal control, and to review its operations.

While SWE-129 is written from the OCE point of view, the requirement also contains an inherent Center role, i.e., participation in the OCE survey activities. A Center's support of this SWE can be assessed by considering the extent of its preparations for and involvement in these OCE surveys.

3. Guidance

The Headquarters Office of the Chief Engineer (OCE) controls and maintains an appraisal process for use in periodic Center and project OCE compliance surveys.  The OCE compliance survey achieves several objectives. They are:

  • Review Center and specified NASA Headquarters organizations’ processes and infrastructure for compliance with OCE requirements, policy, procedures, processes, statutes, and regulations.
  • Review specific program/project “files” for compliance with requirements, policy, procedures, processes, statutes, and regulations.
  • Identify systemic problems or deficiencies.
  • Recognize areas of excellence/best practices.
  • Receive Center feedback regarding modifications in Agency policy and requirements.

Currently, the OCE compliance surveys focus on the following core elements:

  • Common framework for unified program and project life cycle.
  • Program and project review structure.
  • Technical authority implementation.
  • Dissenting opinions and deviation/waiver process.
  • Software engineering management.
  • Systems engineering.
  • Lessons learned.
  • Technical standards.
  • Other.

In addition to NPR 7150.2, the Headquarters’ OCE compliance survey may also include a review and appraisal of the products resulting from the use of the following documents, to the extent they involve software engineering:

  • NPD 7120.4D, NASA Engineering and Program/Project Management Policy. 257
  • NASA-STD-8739.8, Software Assurance Standard. 278
  • NASA-STD-8719.13, Software Safety Standard. 271

The two NASA standards in this list are traditionally covered in detail by the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance (OSMA) audits conducted by the NASA Safety Center.

“The baseline set of questions are reviewed and may be revised as needed to support the survey at each specific organization. Input for updates to the questions is obtained from survey team members including the software engineering sub-team lead, the systems engineering sub-team lead, and the

Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) representative for records management” (OCE Requirements Compliance Survey Process, 2010).

The process of determining the scope for a survey addresses the following items at a minimum:

  • Requirements implementation and compliance.
  • Results from audits, reviews, and assessments conducted by other organizations.
  • Trends identified across the Agency or within a single organization.

Preparations for the survey typically include reviews of the flow down of NASA OCE requirements to Center/Project procedural documents, reviews of organization and program/project specific documentation and reviews of other surveys, audits and assessments. What follows in this guidance is a brief summary of the software engineering survey team's appraisal process. The main thrust of the software sub-team's appraisal is built into a set of questions from the OCE. This baseline set of questions serves as guidance to the Center or project to communicate what the OCE wants to review. The survey leader will communicate these questions to the Center's survey manager 3 to 4 weeks before the event, who in turn conveys them to the software point of contact. (SW POC). This is usually the Center's NASA Software Working Group (SWG) primary representative.

As in many reviews, surveys, and appraisal activities, compliance is often measured against objective evidence. Expected content and types of this objective quality evidence are usually defined in the preparation for the software survey. This defined material provides the basis for confirmation of compliance with requirements and identification of strengths and weaknesses. The Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute provides the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI®) appraisal method 157 for process improvement. The method provides an excellent discussion of the philosophy and types of objective evidence. The degree to which Centers follow the CMMI® method can be assessed in a Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement (SCAMPISM) activity. While the information presented in the SCAMPISM discussion is centered on evaluating CMMI® process implementation, the discussions and explanations in the CMMI® text provide good background information for use in the OCE appraisals to people for who are relatively inexperienced in appraisals and surveys.

Findings resulting from the survey are generally classified as strengths, weaknesses, observations, opportunities, and non-compliances. However, the survey team has a clear and overriding obligation to identify all items of non-compliance and items that adversely affect safety or quality. These items will be included in the final report. Significant issues are brought to the immediate attention of the surveyed organization's management via the survey manager

Additional guidance related to OCE Appraisal activities may be found in the following related requirements and sections in this Handbook:

SWE-004

OCE Benchmarking

SWE-036

Software Process Determination

SWE-139

Shall Statements

SWE-145Approve Waivers and Deviations
Topic 7.18Documentation Guidance

4. Small Projects

Typically, the OCE includes a small project in the survey activities at a Center. The OCE survey leader will work with the Center SW POC to develop the appropriate level of survey involvement for small projects. 

5. Resources

5.1 Tools

Tools relative to this SWE may be found in the table below. You may wish to reference the Tools Table in this handbook for an evolving list of these and other tools in use at NASA. Note that this table should not be considered all-inclusive, nor is it an endorsement of any particular tool. Check with your Center to see what tools are available to facilitate compliance with this requirement.

No tools have been currently identified for this SWE. If you wish to suggest a tool, please leave a comment below.

6. Lessons Learned

No Lessons Learned have currently been identified for this requirement.


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