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Skilcraft pens are a government icon. The pens trace their origin to the Wagner Act, which established that the government would buy a certain amount of goods produced by blind workers. The specifications for the manufacture of these pens are exacting, but their performance has been unsurpassed for decades.


  1. It is just a pen! Discuss why controlling is important for the government ballpoint pen.
  2. What type of control is used to ensure consistency in the production of these pens? What is the control mechanism?
  3. What type of standard did the government establish for its pens? Identify the specific standards mentioned in the article.

SOURCE: Y. Q. Mui, “Low-tech Skilcraft Pens Endure in a High-Tech World,” Washington Post (Retrievable online at

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