The Pentagon and defense industry are working to ensure faulty or counterfeit parts do not make their way into the supply chain, officials said Friday, after the Senate passed legislation that could punish firms who do not sufficiently act to curtail the problem.
"Every indication we have is that industry shares the same concerns with us," Navy Capt. John Kirby, the Pentagon’s deputy spokesman, said. “This is one issue where we all stand to lose, so we all stand to gain by working hard at it.”
The comments came after the Senate passed its defense authorization bill Thursday night. The legislation included an amendment seeking to halt the influx of counterfeit parts into the procurement supply chain.
A Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) inquiry had found numerous cases of counterfeit electronic parts–mostly from China–ending up in Pentagon weapon systems.
The Senate voted 93-7 to approve the long-delayed $662 billion defense policy bill that lays out spending priorities on Wednesday. The amount in the bill is $27 billion less than Obama’s request and $43 billion less than the amount appropriated for fiscal 2011, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of SASC, said. The Pentagon’s actual budget is determined by the appropriations committees in both chambers.
The White House had threatened to veto the bill over controversial provision regarding the detainment of al-Qaeda suspects.
The legislation includes a measure that places limitations on the retirement of the Air Force’s C-23 small transport planes. Another provision requires the U.S. comptroller general to report on the Pentagon implementation of justifying and approval requirements for some sole-source contracts.
The anti-counterfeiting measure would bar defense firms charging the Pentagon for resolving problems associated with counterfeit parts. It would require larger contractors to create systems for detecting and avoiding the parts, and calls for reduced payments to companies that fail to do so, according to Levin’s office.
The inquiry found fake parts were discovered in the Navy’s SH-60B helicopter and P-8 Poseidon aircraft, the Air Force’s C-130J, C-27J and C-17 aircraft, and Army and Marine Corps helicopters including the AH-64 and CH-46.
The Senate bill must still be reconciled with the House version passed earlier this year.