DOD Monitors Supply System to Prevent Counterfeit Parts

WASHINGTON — The Defense Depart­ment is tak­ing added steps to ensure that its equip­ment and sup­ply chains con­tain no coun­ter­feit parts, offi­cials said.

The depart­ment has a qual­i­ty assur­ance process that iden­ti­fies mate­r­i­al that doesn’t con­form to stan­dards and deter­mines the authen­tic­i­ty of parts, DOD offi­cials said in a report released today.

When coun­ter­feit parts are iden­ti­fied, the depart­ment works with law enforce­ment inves­ti­ga­tions that some­times result in actions against com­pa­nies and coun­ter­feit­ers. Pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions such as the Aero­space Indus­try Asso­ci­a­tion and the Soci­ety of Auto­mo­tive Engi­neers have anti-coun­ter­feit­ing stan­dards and groups that work with the depart­ment, the DOD report says.

The department’s release came after a Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee hear­ing yes­ter­day inquired about coun­ter­feit parts at the U.S. Mis­sile Defense Agency. The agency’s direc­tor, Army Lt. Gen. Patrick J. O’Reilly, told the com­mit­tee that coun­ter­feit parts are a big con­cern because they reduce reli­a­bil­i­ty in a tech­ni­cal­ly com­plex sys­tem.

Some parts may be used and resold as new, O’Reilly said. Oth­ers might be labeled as mil­i­tary-com­pli­ant when they’re real­ly just com­mer­cial ver­sions of the part that don’t meet rig­or­ous DOD stan­dards. And because coun­ter­feit­ers are becom­ing increas­ing­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed, coun­ter­feit elec­tron­ic parts might even dis­able or steal crit­i­cal infor­ma­tion from the sys­tems in which they’re embed­ded, he said.

A Defense Depart­ment spokesman, Navy Capt. John Kir­by, was asked about coun­ter­feit parts dur­ing a meet­ing with Pen­ta­gon reporters after the hear­ing.

“I think the best descrip­tion for what we are talk­ing about in this case are typ­i­cal­ly used, dis­card­ed parts that are then refur­bished,” Kir­by said.

“This is an issue we take very seri­ous­ly,” DOD Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle said at the same meet­ing. “We have detect­ed in the sup­ply chain some coun­ter­feit parts, but I would empha­size that there has been no loss of life or cat­a­stroph­ic mis­sion fail­ure as a result of these parts enter­ing the sup­ply chain.”

To ensure against coun­ter­feit parts, the depart­ment is imple­ment­ing rec­om­men­da­tions by the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty Office that include pol­i­cy mod­i­fi­ca­tions, inter­nal process improve­ments, and col­lab­o­ra­tion with indus­try, the DOD report says.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)