The more things change, the more they stay the same…
The Saturn second stage was built by North American Aviation at its plant at Seal Beach, California, shipped to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama, and there tested to ensure that it met contract specifications. Problems developed on this piece of the Saturn effort and Wernher von Braun began intensive investigations. Essentially his engineers completely disassembled and examined every part of every stage delivered by North American to ensure no defects. This was an enormously expensive and time-consuming process, grinding the stage’s production schedule almost to a standstill and jeopardizing the Presidential timetable.
When this happened Webb told von Braun to desist, adding that “We’ve got to trust American industry.” The issue came to a showdown at a meeting where the Marshall rocket team was asked to explain its extreme measures. While doing so, one of the engineers produced a rag and told Webb that “this is what we find in this stuff.” The contractors, the Marshall engineers believed, required extensive oversight to ensure they produced the highest quality work.
And if Marshall hadn’t been so persnickety about quality? Well have a look at the post Apollo 1 fire accident investigation for the results of sacrificing quality (and safety) on the alter of schedule.
Apollo: A Retrospective Analysis, Roger D. Launius, July 1994, quoted in “This Is What We Find In This Stuff: A Designer Engineer’s View”, Presentation, Rich Katz, Grunt Engineer NASA Office of Logic Design, FY2005 Software/Complex Electronic Hardware Standardization Conference, Norfolk, Virginia July 26-28, 2005.