Courtesy Reuters

Slow-Down in the Pentagon

In 1947, the "Bible" of the nation's military contractors-Armed Forces Procurement Regulations-was a slim volume about 100 to 125 pages long. Today, the A.F.P.R., which governs in minute detail all those who do business with the Pentagon, has expanded to four huge volumes totaling something like 1,200 pages, with new ones added daily.

Five to seven years ago, according to a careful statistical average compiled by one major defense contractor, it required four to five months to execute a contract from the time an acceptable price quotation was received in the Pentagon to the time the contractor received the final document. Today, the same contractor estimates that an average of nine to twelve months is needed for the same process; a very few may be completed in 30 days; some may require 23 months.

Parkinson's law of bureaucracy-the less there is to do the more people it takes to do it, and the simpler the problem the longer the time required for the solution-appears to be operating in. Washington, particularly in defense contracting, There are many reasons for this state of affairs.

Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, the apostle of "cost- effectiveness" these past four years, must share the blame for many of them as well as the credit for some improved management procedures. But the lengthening delays in the development and production of new weapons started long before he took office, and no one man, no one cause, is responsible,

A rough rule of thumb used to hold that it required about seven years (in the United States) from the gleam, in the eye of the designer to the finished operational product. This time span, which has been, compared unfavorably with the lead time required for the development and production of new weapons in Russia, has been steadily lengthening, and there is no sign at the moment that the process is being checked.

Even more important, there appears to have been in, the first half of the 1960s a definite reduction, as

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