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Reforming Mil-Specs: The Navy Experience with Military Specifications and Standards Reform

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This study helps determine why Navy military specifications and standards reform (MSSR) was not completed within budget or in accordance with a self-imposed schedule. The report defines the status of Navy reforms, looks for reasons why the Navy missed its self-imposed reform completion date, describes primary options for completing the reforms, and identifies steps RAND could take to help the Navy choose among these options. To help them understand the perspectives, interests, and concerns of all who were involved in the reform effort, the authors collected data from and held discussions with various officials in the Department of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Defense Logistics Agency. In addition, the authors examined the strategies adopted by the U.S. Air Force and Army, and evaluated why they were able to complete MSSR within their planned budgets and schedules. The authors tentatively conclude that the Navy’s problems stemmed from the unique structure of its acquisition bureaucracy, as well as substantive concerns about MSSR. In helping the Navy select among options for correcting the problem, four steps should be taken: Identify and collect data and information to explain the Navy’s reform experience; explore options for reducing the cost and speeding the process; change the direction of the reforms as originally proposed; and examine how reforms have been accomplished in pilot programs elsewhere.