Committee wants checks on defense industry's supply chain

DOD's supply chain management has been on GAO's High Risk List since 1990

The House Armed Services Committee's defense authorization bill would require defense officials to research where they're getting their supplies in the age of the global marketplace.

The fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1540) would require the Defense Department to conduct an assessment of its industrial base to find any potential gaps that may affect the military’s operations.

Then, the Government Accountability Office would be double-checking DOD’s work to make sure it’s actually complete. GAO would review how DOD did its assessment and that recommendations for better management are reasonable, according the bill.


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On May 12, the committee approved the $690 billion legislation to support DOD, contingency operations, and the national security work. The House hasn't acted on the bill, and the Senate hasn't considered its version.

GAO has included DOD's management of its supply chain on its High Risk List since 1990.

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee's Readiness Subcommittee, said DOD relies on thousands of suppliers to buy the weapons, equipment and raw materials it needs to support ongoing and future conflicts.

“However, increasing globalization in the defense industry presents uncertainty in the U.S. forces’ ability to maintain a reliable and sufficient supplier base in the event of conflicts,” said Forbes, who recommended the provision be included in the bill.

DOD officials have also recognized the problem and are attempting to change their approach to management.

They're planning to conduct evaluations based on real data and continuous appraisals of its suppliers. Their new approach would replace the old ways of narrow reviews conducted by program and by product, Frank Kendall, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said May 3 in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee.

“By continuously assessing the industrial base on a sector-by-sector, tier-by-tier basis, the department will develop a reservoir of critical and actionable information,” he said.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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