History of the Defense Standardization Program




Although the DSP was officially born on July 1, 1952, the program began to take shape 15 years prior to Congress passing the Cataloging and Standardization Act. The first effort to create an organization to develop joint procurement documents for the military took place in February 1937. In that year, the Army-Navy Aeronautical Board established a working committee to prepare joint specifications in the aeronautical area. This committee, which eventually became the Aeronautical Standards Group, issued more than 1,100 Army-Navy Aeronautical Standards, which were eventually brought under the DSP. After 1947, these standards were re-designated as Air Force-Navy Aeronautical Standards. The success of the Aeronautical Board and the involvement of the United States in World War II led to further joint standardization efforts. A Joint Army-Navy Committee on Specifications was established in 1942 and was succeeded in 1945 by the Joint Army-Navy Specifications Board. Both groups developed Joint Army-Navy (JAN) specifications on a limited scale for procuring items and materials.

In May 1948, the Munitions Board Standards Agency was established, replacing the Joint Army-Navy Specifications Board, to develop procedures for preparing, coordinating, and issuing defense specifications. On April 25, 1951, Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall issued a memorandum emphasizing the importance of standardization in the Department of Defense and directing all future specifications and standards to be issued in the federal or military series, with July 1955 being the final date for converting existing service specifications to the federal and military series. Before 1952, all joint standardization efforts resulted from military organizations recognizing the benefits of standardization and working together voluntarily to commit resources and support in exchange for future benefits.

On July 1, 1952, however, the voluntary nature of cooperative military standardization efforts became statutory when the 82nd Congress passed Public Law 436, titled “Defense Cataloging and Standardization Act,” which was later codified as Public Law 1028, 84th Congress, Chapter 145. That statute established a single, unified standardization program in the Department of Defense, and the rest, as they say, is history—a history that we continue to write.

In the 70 years of its existence, the DSP continues to remain a comprehensive, integrated standardization program linking DoD acquisition, operational, sustainment, and related military and civil communities. Under the leadership of Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering (USD(R&E)), it aids the DoD in identifying, influencing, developing, managing, and providing access to standardization processes, products, and services for warfighters, the acquisition community, and the logistics community to promote interoperability, reduce total ownership costs, and sustain readiness.

The Defense Standardization Program Office manages the day-to-day activities of the DSP under the oversight of the Defense Standardization Executive, and Defense Standardization Council.

Want to learn more about the DSP? View the DSPO Information Sheet and visit our web page that celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the DSP.