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Pentagon Procurements

July 19, 1994

* I had to smile when I read the editorial, "Is This the End of the $400 Hammer?" (July 2) because it only focused on the use of "unnecessarily detailed technical specifications" in Defense Department procurement practices. Being in defense procurement, I agree that going to commercial standards is a step in the right direction, but it's merely a drop in the bucket! Much larger cost savings can be achieved by reforming the entire acquisition process.

Defense procurement is a large bureaucratic nightmare and it starts at the top with federal acquisition laws. In January, 1993, a Department of Defense law advisory panel released a report that reviewed over 600 statutes and determined that half of them could be amended, repealed, deleted, or consolidated. If these recommendations were adopted it would create a "waterfall effect." Fewer less complicated statutes would lead to less government oversight and bureaucracy. Less oversight would mean less contractor overhead. Less overhead leads directly to less cost.

If we can potentially save $12 billion per year by eliminating derailed technical specifications, just think what we could save by true defense acquisition reform. Hey, maybe enough to pay for President Clinton's health care plan!

KATIE BURKE

Huntington Beach

* The only difference between a small business guy who overcharges his neighbors for water and flashlight batteries and a major contractor who overcharges his government for hammers and coffee pots, is in the size of the tab.

HENRY CERVANTES

Marina del Rey

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