Skip to main content (Press Enter).
Defense Standardization Program
Making Systems Work Together
Defense Standardization Program
Search DSP website:
Search DSP website:
Joint Standardization Boards
Specs & Standards
Types of DSP Documents
Access DSP Documents
ASSIST Quick Search
DSP and DOD IT Standards Program Relationship
List of DISR documents
International Standardization Documents
Other Government Standards
Department of Energy Technical Standards
Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards
NASA Technical Standards System
NIST Standards Coordination Office
Policy & Guidance
Key Policy Documents
SD-1: Standardization Directory
SD-2: DoD Acquisitions Buying Commercial Items and Nondevelopmental Items
SD-5: Market Research
SD-6: Provisions Governing Qualification
SD-9: DOD Guidance on Participating in the Development and Use of Non-Government Standards
SD-10: Identification & Development of Metric Standards
SD-15: Guide for Performance Specifications
SD-18: Program Guide for Parts Requirements
SD-19: Parts Management Guide
SD-21: Mandated Specifications and Standards
SD-23: DoD Item Reduction Program
SD-24: Value Engineering
SD-26: DMSMS Contract Language Guide Book
Commercial Item Descriptions
Commercial and Nondevelopmental Items
Data Item Descriptions
Data Requirements in Specs & Standards
Detailed Military Specifications & Standards
Inactive for New Design Documents
Locating and Ordering Documents
Non-Government Standards Bodies
Referencing Documents in Specs & Standards
State of the DSP
Conference Proceedings and Papers
ANSI - Standards and Conformity Assessment
Index of Federal Specifications, Standards and CIDs
DoD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms
Books on Standards
Standards Engineering Society (SES) Papers
DoD Shelf-Life Program
Training & Events
Comment on documents
Develop a standard or specification
Start a Joint Standardization Board
Access Knowledge Sharing Portals
Doing Business with DoD
Meet DSPO Staff
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Frequently Asked Questions about Performance Specifications are listed below.
Q: What is a performance spec?
A performance specification states requirements in terms of the required results with criteria for verifying compliance, but without stating the methods for achieving the required results. A performance specification defines the functional requirements for the item, the environment in which it must operate, and interface and interchangeability characteristics.
Q: What guidance have we given on how to write a performance specification?
Writing performance specifications is not a new concept. We have been teaching how to write performance requirements for years at our specification training course. It has received extra emphasis in our training on how to write Commercial Item Descriptions. What is new is that we are now designating documents as "performance specifications." The following performance specification policy and guidance have been issued:
MIL-STD-961E(1) NOT 1, Defense and Program-Unique Specifications Format and Content, dated 10 March 2010.
Specific guidance on the development and use of performance specifications appears in the SD-15, Guide for Performance Specifications, dated 24 August 2009.
Q: Is it possible for a general specification to be designated as performance and its associated specification sheets to be designated as detail?
No. Since a general specification must be used together with a specification sheet, the fact that the specification sheet is detail requires the general specification also to be designated as detail.
Q: Within the same family of specification sheets, is it possible for some to be designated as detail and others to be performance?
Generally, no. The decision whether to convert a family of specification sheets to performance specifications must be consistent across-the-board. In some cases, however, the number of specification sheets that must be converted to performance specifications may be very large, making it difficult to convert all of them at one time. In this situation, there may be a temporary blend of detail and performance specification sheets within the same document number series. This situation is acceptable as long as the goal is to convert all of them to performance specifications.
Q: Can a performance spec ever cite a detail spec as a requirement?
The citing of a detail spec as a requirement does not automatically mean that a spec is not performance, but it is a strong indicator that as spec may not be performance. Performance specs should not cite any detail spec as a requirement if it demands a specific design solution. But performance specs may cite a detail spec if it relates to a physical or operational interface requirement. For example, it would be permissible to have a requirement in a performance engine specification that required the engine to operate with specific substances, such as lubricating oil or fuel, which conform to detail specs. The requirement that the engine be able to operate on a specific type of fuel is an operational interface requirement and does not dictate the specific design of the engine. It would not, however, be permissible in a performance spec to require that the engine be made of certain materials or that the various engine components conform to detail specs, since such requirements would dictate specific design solutions instead of stating the performance expected.