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Ten contracts for household goods containers awarded by the General Services Administration (GSA) since October 1975 were reviewed to determine the amount spent on these containers, reasons for continued specification revisions, and the possibility of using a performance or commercial specification. The containers are constructed of plywood, can be readily assembled and disassembled, and are used primarily to ship household furnishings over long distances. From June 1975 to March 1978, GSA modified the quality assurance provisions, the type of fastening system to be used, dimensions of the materials used, and the methods of nailing and stapling. GSA often revised its detailed design specification to correct deficiencies noted during testing. Performance testing has been inconsistent and should be improved. GSA and the military services are considering using a performance specification to purchase household goods containers. The Air Force submitted the only two complaints in the files about the poor quality of GSA containers. GSA should determine the feasibility of discontinuing the purchase of household goods containers, and if it finds that purchasing the containers is cost-effective, it should promptly develop a performance specification and improve testing. An appropriate testing standard for containers should be established to ensure that testing is performed consistently and in accordance with the standard.

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