George Babbage is an experienced software developer working for Acme Software Company. Mr. Babbage is now working on a project for the U.S. Department of Defence, testing the software used in controlling an experimental jet fighter. George is the quality control manager for the software. Early simulation testing revealed that, under certain conditions, instabilities would arise that could cause the plane to crash. The software was patched to eliminate the specific problems uncovered by the tests. After these repairs, the software passed all the simulation tests. George is not convinced that the software is safe. He is worried that the problems uncovered by the simulation testing were symptomatic of a design flaw that could only be eliminated by an extensive redesign of the software. He is convinced that the patch that was applied to remedy the specific tests in the simulation did not address the underlying problem. But, when George brings his concerns to his manager, he assured him that the problem has been resolved. Moreover, he told George that any major redesign effort would introduce unacceptable delays, resulting in costly penalties to the company. There is a great deal of pressure on George to sign off on the system and to allow it to be flight tested. It was even hinted that if he persisted in delaying the system, he would be fired.
The situation is developing highly unpleasant to all parties. George Babbage is in danger of being fired, while the US Department of Defense is in danger of being left with a substandard and unsafe product. Above the project leaders, some deadlines are highly undesirable to disrupt, and for reasons that are not consistent with the postulates of the code, these deadlines are above safety. According to the ACS, the public interest always prevails over others. The Code states that a person communicates to interested parties about any potential conflicts between the professional activity and legal or other generally accepted requirements (ACS, 2014). In this case, the involvement of more senior managers is required, as they are also interested in the high-quality development of a jet fighter. In addition, this clause states that this should be done as soon as possible while maintaining ICT integrity and security priorities at all times (ACS, 2014). Consequently, Babbage’s doubt is entirely consistent with the code, and the other side makes errors that violate it.
George Babbage is honest about his doubts about the complete safety of the aircraft, which is in line with the third point of the code. In addition, as a result of these events, the competence of Babbage may suffer, which can only assess the fact of faulty security, but logic does not offer its fixes. The sixth point on professionalism is general since it involves avoiding the problems identified by the code. However, since Babbage does not have power over the leaders, it is in its interests to inform all interested parties about the violation of the norms indicated in the code and demand a change in the timing for more detailed checks of the project.
The consequences are apparent and indicated: a lack of safety control can lead to a plane crash in a particular situation. Consequently, the Department of Defense will suffer losses and send the project for new security checks, which will also lead to a loss of time. As a result, a valuable employee may be fired, and in the event of a disaster, Babbage’s desire will be achieved – the project review period will increase. Plus, the executives who rushed and threatened Babbage will get what they deserve and expose any misconduct that goes against the code.
If I were in the place of the expert George Babbage, my choice would depend entirely on the code, which generally prohibits signing this document without additional checks. Of course, the loss of a job, combined with other data, such as the need to earn money in the case of a family, children, and today’s pandemic, is a tough decision to make. However, it will be pretty easy to find a new job with such a track record, perhaps not so prestigious.
In place of managers, the natural and only way out is to bring the matter to the top managers and explain it to them as clearly as possible. Failure to meet deadlines can only be justified by safety, as one of the most critical aspects of development, and in this case, it is necessary to show, according to the code, honesty, competence, and professionalism. Seeing his lack of confidence, reassuring George is highly dishonest and cannot be justified by the deadline. The timing may also be dictated by strategic events for which the presence of this fighter is critical, but ICT security is in the public interest, regardless of who the stakeholders are. Hence, following the competence clause of the code, there is a need to involve senior managers to make those bad decisions that are actually beyond current employees’ capabilities.
ACS. (2014). ACS Code of Professional Conduct. Australian Computer Society. Web.