With regard to the story "Pentagon's Purchasing Chief to Quit" {Sept. 14}, it's about time Congress realized that the Defense Department cannot manage major systems acquisitions. Richard Godwin's problems in implementing the Packard Commission's recommendations are the most recent example of the department's inability to improve acquisitions management. The problems are many: excessive layers of management, diffused authority and responsibility, inadequate training and experience, interservice rivalries and more. All of this costs the taxpayer more than $20 billion per year.

Numerous commissions, boards, hearings and studies have repeatedly confirmed these problems since 1955. Thirty-two years ago, the second Hoover Commission made the right recommendation: place major systems acquisitions management in the hands of trained civilians, and involve the services only in matters of requirements.

This would parallel commercial practice, in that the vast majority of users of commercial products are not the ones who manage the development of those products. In fact, separation of acquisitions from operations, contrary to the beliefs of the service secretaries, strengthens management by providing better checks and balances to the acquisition process.

What is needed is a professional organization separate from the Defense Department. Such a step would reduce the size of the department to a manageable level and reduce its overly powerful influence on the economy and domestic policy, in addition to providing considerable savings to the taxpayer. RAY BROWN Falls Church