In most military acquisition contracts, there are no provisions for the contractor to implement his own design policy. When this situation exists, there is a relatively high risk that recognized good design principles and practices will not be used and the product will be deficient in performance, and will take longer and cost more to produce.
An obvious solution requires that each contractor submit detailed, working, corporate design policy for consideration in source selection. Many contractors already have established a corporate design policy which includes lessons learned on state-of-the-art materials and techniques. By doing so, these contractors demonstrate confidence that cost-effective design practices will be applied consistently.
A design policy is a statement supported by controlled engineering manuals, procedures, or guidelines, that attempts to reduce the risk in the design process by implementing fundamental design principles and practices. These design policies set the right climate to encourage good design practices. They should be visible and followed, with checkpoints to validate compliance, and tailored to a specific project or product area.
Guidelines that aid the design process do exist. These guidelines include requirements documents issued by both the government and the contractor, such as requirements allocation, component derating, design analyses, tradeoff analyses, testability requirements, parts control policy, training programs, etc. However, these guidelines are not consistent throughout industry, nor are they uniformly implemented for similar projects. Both government and industry agree on the importance of the design effort and the necessity to apply certain disciplines in this process.
It is generally acknowledged that systematic implementation of proven design principles and practices can lead to significant advances in equipment reliability without excessive added cost. The need exists for a more disciplined application of the policies, procedures, and techniques that are already established and general known throughout government and industry.
Lack of industry and government attention to design
policy ignores the importance of setting the right climate for implementing
fundamental design disciplines. Engineering integrity gives way to other
considerations of a regular basis. Products are designed in an undisciplined
approach with the risk that they will require considerable redesign and fixes
after they get into the field.