Counterfeiting remains a problem for everyone involved in the electronic components supply chain, and defense organizations are no exception. Last year, the Department of Commerce (DOC) released a report on counterfeit electronics in the defense sector, noting that nearly 40% of companies involved in the defense/electronics supply chain encountered counterfeit parts between 2005 and 2008, the years the study was conducted.
The DOC’s Bureau of Industry and Security’s Office of Technology Evaluation found that a lack of communication, information, and formalized policies regarding counterfeiting are largely to blame for the problem. The group listed the following general findings of the four-year study:
- All elements of the supply chain have been directly impacted by counterfeit electronics.
- There is a lack of dialogue between all organizations in the U.S. supply chain.
- Companies and organizations assume that others in the supply chain are testing parts.
- Lack of traceability in the supply chain is commonplace.
- There is an insufficient chain of accountability within organizations.
- Recordkeeping on counterfeit incidents by organizations is very limited.
- Most organizations do not know who to contact in the U.S. government regarding counterfeit parts.
- Stricter testing protocols and quality control practices for inventories are required.
- Most Department of Defense organizations do not have policies in place to prevent counterfeit parts from infiltrating their supply chain.
The group also established a set of best practices to combat the problem. They include buying directly from component manufacturers and their authorized distributors, developing written guidelines for all aspects of component procurement and use, and a host of other suggestions concerning testing and reporting. For a look at the full report, go to www.electronicdesign.com and search for “DOC Reports On Counterfeit Electronics.”