The Lasting Legacy of Mil Spec Reform

There are some topics that just won’t go away and Mil Spec Reform seems to be one of them!  The changes made by Secretary Perry in 1994 still ripple throughout the standards community.  And I still get questions about what standards to use that lead back to this historic transformation.

Mil Spec Reform started in the mid-1990’s as part of the DoD’s cost-cutting measures.  It was kicked off by a memo by Secretary Perry in July of 1994.  The memo directed the DoD (Department of Defense) to withdraw mil specs and standards whenever possible in favor of industry standards.  It revamped many of the conventions used during procurement.  And it cited not only cost savings but also adherence to industry norms and access to advanced technologies as reasons for the changes.

The first evidence of the extent of the proposed changes came with the release of the “Hot 105 List.”  This list was a compilation of the specs and standards deemed not only unnecessary but also to cost the U.S. government the most money.  Many of the most widely-used standards were on that list — the MIL-STD-105, MIL-STD-45662, and so on.  Of course, as these documents were withdrawn, industry was in shock! The publications were used not only for military procurement but also for many commercial transactions.

Mil Spec reform did go through. Changes have been extensive within the military, both in procurement processes and in documentation support.  Let’s take a look at some of the lasting impacts.

  1.  Mil Specs and Standards cancelled during this period have been replaced in many cases by industry standards.  And some of those standards are direct adoptions of the military documents themselves by various industry standards developing organizations (SDOs).  So for example, you will see many SAE standards that contain elements of the Mil Specs and Standards they replaced.  Samples are AMS-STD-595 for Federal colors and AMS-STD-2154 for ultrasonic inspection of wrought metals.
  2. Government participation in industry standards development has risen.  Many organizations have developed standards that not only meet commercial requirements but account for government needs as well.  So standardization has bridged the gap between the needs of these two groups in many cases.
  3. The DoD has achieved a reduction in the cost of it’s standardization program.  It no longer needs to certify its suppliers — third parties are now hired for quality and other compliance certifications.  And for the military, the cost of purchasing industry standards is far less than the cost of writing and maintaining a separate system specifically for their own needs.
  4. The cost to industry has risen.  Under the old system, the exclusive use of mil specs and standards was very inexpensive.  The documentation was basically paid for by taxpayer dollars.  However, with reform came an increased cost for suppliers.  Industry standards come with a price tag, sometimes a rather steep one!  And the costs of certification can be expensive as well.
  5. There continues to be some confusion about what documentation to use now that most of the popular Mil Specs and Standards are withdrawn.  This is in part due to the fact that the industry standards collection is far more diverse than the DoD one.  So for example, when trying to determine what should be used in place of the MIL-STD-45662, you have a choice between and ISO standard and an ANSI one.  You’ll have to either depend on contracts to point the way for you or make an evaluation of both documents to determine what is best for your organization.

Mil Spec Reform has an on-going legacy.  It has allowed for huge improvements within the DoD.  It has supported the use of advanced technologies to protect our forces in the field.  It has made the military more cost-effective.  And it has pushed many commercial organizations into the use of industry documentation.

If you have questions about the migration path for any of the obsolete mil specs and standards, please get in touch.  You can reach us by phone (650-591-7600) and email (  Some documents do not have a clear path, but many do.  We’ll be happy to help you follow the trail where ever possible.  For a more complete discussion of Mil Spec Reform itself, take a look at Richard Shertzer’s article on the subject.  It’s an in-depth analysis of the process.

And you may just want to look up the obsolete publication at our webstore,  We have a catalog of over 1 million publications for you to browse and order from.  Many withdrawn documents have replacement information in the bibliographic record.

AMS-C-26074 and MIL-C-26074 – An explanation of the revision path

When AMS-C-26074 (titled Coatings, Electroless Nickel, Requirements for) was released to replace MIL-C-26074 and then subsequently was canceled and then inactivated, it caused a great deal of confusion among users of the document.  In order to help you understand the current situation, here’s the revision path for the documents and information on what’s current now.

The last issue of MIL-C-26074 was Revision E, from 10/1990.  In 1994 as part of mil spec reform, the document was cancelled by Cancellation Notice 1 and was replaced by AMS-2404 and AMS-2405.  However, the two documents did not adequately replace the mil spec and a second cancellation notice was issued in 8/1995.  This time MIL-C-26074E was replaced by ASTM-B607, ASTM-B656, AMS-2404, AMS-2405 and AMS-2433.

This still did not completely satisfy the requirements of the original mil spec, so in 2/1998 the document was reinstated.

Now one feature of mil spec reform is that a number of cancelled military specs and standards ended up being reprinted in their entirety by various industry associations.  In this case, MIL-C-26074E was adopted and reprinted by SAE as AMS-C-26074, 1998 Edition in 8/1998.  Unfortunately, the MIL-C-26074 was not cancelled at that point in time.

With two concurrent and identical specifications in force at the same time, confusion ran rampant. On 2/4/2003, an administrative notice was issued referring to a classified MIL-DTL-26074 Revision F.  The 2/5/2003, this MIL-DTL-26074F was cancelled.  On the same day, the MIL-C-26074E was cancelled as well.   The Revision E was replaced by the AMS-C-26074, except for Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program applications which were directed to use MIL-DTL-32119 (a classified document not available to the general public).  The Revision F was just replaced by the MIL-DTL-32119.

Still SAE felt that the 26074 specification duplicated pre-existing standards and wanted to withdraw the document in favor of those older (and well-used) documents.  So a Cancellation Revision A was released for the AMS-C-26074 in 2/2005.  The document was replaced by AMS-2404 and AMS-2433.  However, again there was resistance to this move.  So in October 2005, the document was reinstated in the current Inactive Revision B and thus it remains to this day.

FYI, an Inactive Revision is a status of being current (OK to use), but only for replacement purposes.  The 2 replacement documents (AMS-2404 and AMS-2433) should be used for all new design.

Should you need copies of any of the standards mentioned, or have any further questions, please get in touch.  You can order through our website at, or contact us by phone (650-591-7600), fax (650-591-7617) or email (