Acquisition Reform:

DOD Begins Program to Reform Specifications and Standards

NSIAD-95-14: Published: Oct 11, 1994. Publicly Released: Oct 11, 1994.

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GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) efforts to implement acquisition reforms, focusing on whether its current program: (1) advances military specifications and standards reform; and (2) gives adequate attention to key issues and concerns.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD's current milspec reform program builds on previous studies; (2) although many of the recommendations are essentially the same as those in earlier reports, the current program goes further than previous efforts because it includes more details for implementation; (3) while the implementation strategy is still being refined, officials in the Office of the Secretary of Defense stated that the June 1994 implementation plan is the first step in a long-range, iterative process; (4) major buying commands and centers are to present plans by November 1994 that should provide further implementation details; (5) the current milspec reform effort focuses on changing the acquisition culture and contains several actions intended to accomplish this change, including: (a) ensuring long-term, top-management support; (b) providing training to the affected workforce; (c) securing adequate funding and personnel resources; and (d) establishing incentives for desired behavior; (6) these actions have been used successfully by some commercial companies to promote cultural change; (7) to achieve the major cultural change desired, DOD will need acceptance and support of the milspec reform program throughout the military acquisition community, including both DOD's and contractors' offices; (8) achieving this acceptance and support could become more difficult without: (a) improved data on the benefits of implementing the recommended actions; (b) better focus on areas with the greatest opportunities for benefits; and (c) adequate indicators, referred to by DOD as metrics, to measure progress toward intended goals; and (9) DOD officials have acknowledged difficulties in these areas and indicated that actions would be taken to address these shortcomings as program implementation continues.

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