Packard Commission

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Title page of the Final Report of the Packard Commission to the President.

The President's Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management also known as the Packard Commission was a federal government commission by President Ronald Reagan, created by Executive Order 12526 to study several areas of management functionality within the Department of Defense of the United States. It was chaired by David Packard.


Beginning in 1981, President Ronald Reagan began an expansion in the size and capabilities of the United States armed forces, which entailed major new expenditures on weapons procurement. By the mid-1980s, this spending became a scandal when the Project On Government Oversight reported that the Pentagon had vastly overpaid for a wide variety of items, most notoriously paying $435 for a hammer,[1] $600 for a toilet seat, and $7,000 for a coffee pot.[2]

In response to these scandals, President Reagan appointed a commission chaired by David Packard to study government procurement undertaken by the United States Department of Defense. The Commission consisted of Packard, Ernest C. Arbuckle, Robert H. Barrow, Nicholas F. Brady, Louis W. Cabot, Frank Carlucci, William P. Clark, Jr., Barber Conable, Paul F. Gorman, Carla Anderson Hills, James L. Holloway III, William Perry, Robert T. Marlow, Charles J. Pilliod, Jr., Brent Scowcroft, Herbert Stein, and R. James Woolsey, Jr.[3] The President tasked the Commission with studying defense management policies and procedures, including:


The Packard Commission reported that there was at present "no rational system" governing defense procurement; it concluded that it was not fraud and abuse that led to massive overexpenditures, but rather "the truly costly problems are those of overcomplicated organization and rigid procedure."[5]

The Commission made several recommendations: (1) that defense appropriations should be passed by the United States Congress in two-year budgets rather than annual appropriations bills; (2) the creation of a "procurement czar", to be known as the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and the creation of a clear hierarchy of acquisition executives and managers in each of the services.; (3) the theater commanders should report directly to the United States Secretary of Defense through the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and (4) the powers of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should be strengthened.[6]

Many of the recommendations by the commission were used when Congress reformed the Joint Chiefs of Staff system in 1986 with the Goldwater–Nichols Act.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ James Fairhall, "The case for the $435 hammer - investigation of Pentagon's procurement", Washington Monthly, Jan. 1987
  2. ^$600&hl=en&sa=X&ei=HTTdU7HxNIO58wG28oH4Bw&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=us%20military%20toilet%20seat%20%24600&f=false
  3. ^ Final Report of the Packard Commission, June 1986
  4. ^ Executive Order 12526 -- President's Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management
  5. ^ Evan Thomas, Barrett Seaman, and Bruce Van Voorst, "Defensive About Defense", Time, Mar. 10, 1986
  6. ^ Evan Thomas, Barrett Seaman, and Bruce Van Voorst, "Defensive About Defense", Time, Mar. 10, 1986

External links[edit]