Senators call on Pentagon to better detect and prevent counterfeit parts

Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownAmerica can end poverty among its elderly citizens Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Building back better by investing in workers and communities MORE (D-Ohio) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) said the Pentagon needs to establish a uniform system to detect and prevent counterfeit parts from ending up in weapons.

“This problem must be addressed now,” said Brown, the chairman of the Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy. “The people committing this fraud should be held accountable for endangering lives and threatening critical missions."

ADVERTISEMENT

Apart from disrupting supply chains and delaying missions, counterfeit parts have the potential to seriously affect weapons' performance.

According to the two senators, in one case, the Defense Department detected brake shoes made with substandard materials, including seaweed. In another case, a supplier re-packaged a circuit from a personal computer and labeled it as a $7,000 military-grade circuit for a missile guidance system.

A recent Department of Commerce study on counterfeit electronic parts also found instances of fraud within industry and Department of Defense supply chains, according to Brown and Bayh.

The two senators, who are members of the Senate Armed Services and Banking committees, asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study documenting counterfeit parts within the DoD and the military supply chain.

“The disclosure that knockoffs have found their way into our military supply chain in a time of war is the most troubling disclosure yet,” said Bayh.

The GAO found that the Defense Department does not have policies or specific processes in place for detecting and preventing the use of counterfeit parts.

“Until there is a department-wide system in place to detect these counterfeit parts, we can’t even judge the scope of the problem or estimate the full extent of the risks to U.S. servicemen and -women and national security,” said Brown.

Brown said that he is planning to hold a hearing on counterfeit parts in the defense manufacturing supply chain.