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A specification for the purchase of any material should be as simple as possible, but should be explicit in defining the desired properties of the material. It should not prescribe methods of manufacture, nor should it contain requirements which may be necessary for factory control but which give the purchaser no information as to the properties important for its use. The value of a purchase specification can only be learned by using it. The best specification for any specific material would be prepared by an individual with knowledge of the properties desired, uses, and sources of supply of the desired material, and so situated that he is free to consult with other experts. Such a specification should be subject to prompt revision when observations on tests of deliveries and performance in service indicate that changes are advisable. Such efficient keeping of a specification up to date for maximum usefulness is not possible with national organizations that must work with committees that are generally large. On the other hand, the specifications prepared by committees of national organizations are more likely to be acceptable to many users than a specification prepared by any individual. Since the most widely used specifications for paint materials are the Federal Specifications, it seems worth while to give a brief account of their history.
Acting Chief, Chemistry Division, National Bureau of Standards,, Washington, D.C.