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OCR for page 35
8 Workshop Summary In many areas of procurement, the results of the acquisition reform policy have been positive and, the participants believed, have helpec} to reduce the complexity ant! costs of the DoD purchase of major weapon systems and their many support requirements. Many outcomes of the move away from military and federal specifications to commercial or industry documents have also been positive. The workshop revealed several co mmon themes, identified a key barrier to the military use of commercial materials and process specifications, and identified two keys to the rapid insertion of commercial technology. COMMON THEMES The following themes were common across all sessions of the workshop: . . While the military can and does make use of many commercial items, certain military-unique items will continue to require military-unique specifications that are best prepared and coordinated within military organizations of the DoD. Although contractors are scrambling to recover, the recent wholesale cancellation of military specifications has strained configuration control ant! increased product performance risk throughout the military supply chain. The additional cost to cope with this transition will continue over the next generation of contracts and products. Suitable NGSBs exist to meet the commercial needs of military products, but DoD member participation in these bodies is required to ensure that the resulting specifications meet military needs. The workload of these NGSBs has increased as a result of cancelled military specifications, but user member and DoD member participation in NGSs is decreasing, posing the risk that these "shared" specifications may not be adequately maintained to meet future military-unique needs. Retirements ant! career decisions have led to an erosion of materials ant! processes expertise within industry and the DoD at a time when increased efforts are necessary to continue the transition to performance specifications and NGS envisioned by the acquisition reform movement. The foundations of reliability for national materials and processes (MIL-HDBK-5 and -17) are in danger of losing their independence ant! credibility if they are no longer funded and maintained under government cognizance. 35

OCR for page 35
36 Impact of Acquisition Reform on DoD Materials and Processes Specifications and Standards The lack of an apparent DoD master plan and master coordinator over the military materials and processes specification development strategy is causing confusion and delays during the transition to acquisition reform. Two keys to the rapid insertion of commercial technology were iclentifiecI. First, neutral (government) control of the fundamental materials databases (MIL-HDBK-5 for metals and MIL-HDBK-17 for composites) must be retained to allow rapid dissemination of reliable data. Second, just as technical expertise and discipline are eroding at DoD, strong expertise for materials and processes is required to conclude the transition to NGSs and performance-based specifications and leverage the benefits into real cost savings.