Mil Spec or Imitators?

Subject: Mil Spec or Imitators?
From: Jill Burgchardt <jburgcha -at- PESTILENCE -dot- ITC -dot- NRCS -dot- USDA -dot- GOV>
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 11:05:33 -0600

I worked for a government contractor that had both DOD and
civilian agency contracts. Within the DOD sector conforming to
military specs meant far more than following a template.
Within some of the other government agencies, however, it
amounted to someone pulling out a manual and saying "Here, this
is a mil spec manual, use this format because we want everything
to meet military specs."

The widespread belief that users who borrow a template are
actually creating mil spec manuals is wrong. I've been in
situations where we couldn't deviate from a "mil spec" sample
that included sections that were very specific to COBOL and
FORTRAN (language-specific syntax in mandatory section titles).
Too bad we were using Oracle and C. The COTR (contracting
officer's technical representative) was satisfied, but that
didn't make the manuals conform to true mil specs--or provide
usable documents.

Supposedly, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," but I
think the imitation has caused a disservice. The problems of the
forgeries are more well-known than the quality of the originals.

Jill Burgchardt
jburgcha -at- pestilence -dot- itc -dot- nrcs -dot- usda -dot- gov

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