NDAA, DLA, DNA… Still Clear as Mud


Industry and government continue to hammer away at anti-counterfeiting measures. Dan Deisz of Rochester Electronics recently presented at the Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages (DMSMS) & Standardization Conference, which focuses on government-related matters. Deisz shared the following observations.

Henry Livingston of BAE reported on the impact of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), notably Section 818. It was clear from his presentation that there will be modifications to the NDAA and Section 818, as there are too many ambiguities and wording clarifications that need to be revisited. As the presentations went on, there was continued discussion regarding counterfeit products, relating to materials other than just electronic components.

On day two, an executive panel on anti-counterfeiting kicked off the afternoon session. The basis of this panel was to outline the specific modifications that should be made to the NDAA and Section 818. Between this panel discussion and the earlier presentation by BAE’s Livingston, the issues within the NDAA became clearer to the audience, and more questions were asked as a result.

On the table is a recommendation that the term “suspect counterfeit” or “counterfeit” be changed to “non-conformance.” One reason is to appease legal minds, and another is to broaden the range of products covered across more than just the Department of Defense. The language in Section 818 that talks about “trusted sources” is going to be adjusted to “trustworthy sources” in an effort to avoid comparison to the Trusted Access Program Office (TAPO).

There are a number of terms left open to interpretation in Section 818 when it comes to system integrators and long-term maintenance contracts. Questions that were brought up include: Is Section 818 retroactive, or does it apply only to new contracts? If an end-product consists of government IP integrated into OEM IP, who is responsible for the government IP’s conformance with Section 818? What about DOE, NASA, and all the other government agencies? Why aren’t they called out in Section 818? These types of questions and more have yet to be sorted out in this ambiguous legislation.

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) discussed DNA marking as an anti-counterfeiting measure. DLA admitted that its own inventory of parts is now suspect and is searching its entire inventory for counterfeit products, especially 59xx products, which include active and passive components. Even though the SIA has submitted letters in response to the DNA marking mandate, DLA is moving forward with DNA marking.

There are inherent issues with this process that will not fully address the interdiction of counterfeit devices. There are now two sourcing distributors that have purchased applied DNA product and will be able to ship product into DLA. DLA clarified its position regarding DNA: If it gets two bids on a product where one is from a sourcing distributor that uses DNA marking and has traceability, and one from an OCM authorized distributor with no DNA marking, the DLA will opt to purchase the components from the sourcing distributor.

How do you feel about these points? Is NDAA any clearer? Does DNA marking solve the counterfeiting problem?