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.