Re: Mil Spec or Imitators?

Subject: Re: Mil Spec or Imitators?
From: Paula Puffer <papuffer -at- SWBELL -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 19:26:57 -0500

As someone currently working for a contractor that was just required to to
switch from an older spec to a new one, I can definitely commiserate with
Jill. I've been given two months to figure out the new requirements,
reformat and restructure the books I am working on, add the changes in
material, and still produce two books totally in the neighborhood of 2000
pages and I can't do this with any overtime.

But where Jill mentions books that are supposed to follow a mil-spec and
can't due to the nature of the material, I have different kind of problem.
The reviewer of our books wants personal preference to take precedence over
the MIL STD we must work. The new MIL-STD (40051) is a better format in that
we can break the information up into more discrete sections and the new
structure has allowed for a reorganization so that like topics are grouped
with similar information. Also the formatting structure set forth in the
manuals makes the information easier for the reader to follow and will make
the transitions to the electronic version easier (I believe).

The reviewer has been so against the change of the standard, that she tried
to get a waiver so that we didn't have to go to 40051 (which wasted a lot of
time for us). Now, the reviewer is not even interested in coming to the
Project Review Meeting. Despite the reviewer's lack of interest, there is an
upside to all this. Since the new MIL-STD is new to my bosses as well and I
have had more time to study the thing than they have, they are more willing
to listen to what I have to say as far how I interpret the Standard. Before
it was well we have to do it this way because this is the way we have always
done it. If the samples I have prepared are any indication, the result has
been manuals that are at least better looking and that will hopefully
communicate the information in a much clearer way. Hopefully, the Government
Reps, who look at the stuff tomorrow, will like it.

Anyone else run into problems like these?

papuffer -at- swbell -dot- net

-----Original Message-----
From: Jill Burgchardt <jburgcha -at- PESTILENCE -dot- ITC -dot- NRCS -dot- USDA -dot- GOV>
Date: Monday, April 27, 1998 12:19 PM
Subject: Mil Spec or Imitators?

>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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