OMB steps up hunt for fake products

Counterfeit products have been infiltrating the government’s supply chain for some time, and a new federal group is wondering how to flush them out.

The Obama administration’s Interagency Anti-Counterfeit Working Group is looking for gaps in legal authority and regulation that may undermine how officials can check on the quality of products the government buys, according to a notice issued Aug. 9.

The working group intends to build a framework on how to deal with the problem of potentially counterfeit products. The point is to lay out an outline to reduce U.S.' vulnerability to fake items that is also flexible enough to accommodate the assortment of work that all federal agencies do.

In June 2010, Vice President Joe Biden and White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel announced the Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement, laying out a coordinated governmentwide approach to stopping counterfeiting.

The government wants to know how experts industry and agencies believe the working group should close gaps in the supply chain.

The working group will review current industry standards and if prime contractors and their suppliers can authenticate or trace at-risk items back to the original manufacturer. Federal officials are considering how companies draw up contractual language to assure the products are authentic when items are delivered.

The group will also analyze the government’s duties in keeping counterfeits out. It’s interested in how officials can evaluate and then detect fake products. It’s also considering the limitations that agencies face when they suspect that a product is a fake.

Officials are receiving comments until Sept. 16.

About the Author

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

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