Analysis: DoD's unique ID policy may take time

Military logistics integrators may not immediately have to worry about the Defense Department's new plan to tag all its equipment with unique identifiers, but the initiative may eventually lead to opportunities, especially if additional funding is put in place, said Lou Ray, president and chief executive officer of Matcom International Corp., Alexandria, Va.

"If the program gets a full go-ahead, there will be a lot of work to be done incorporating this capability into all the service logistics programs that are out there," Ray said.

On July 29, The Defense Department mandated that program managers use a Defense Department-defined universal identification code to tag new equipment for all new weapons systems programs.

The idea is to establish a departmentwide reporting mechanism that will give high-level commanders a better idea of where equipment is located across different services. Michael Wynne, acting under secretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, announced the new policy.

Matcom does work for the Defense Logistics Agency, so is watching this development very closely. At this point, only a small number of items have been tagged, mostly through prototype work done in the Navy.

Ray said that success of the initiative depends on the amount of funding it receives.

"If it has to be self-funding, then it will grow slowly," Ray said.

Since many logistics programs are undergoing modernizations, the amount of work needed to add support for this identification system could be substantial.

Ray said that it is doubtful that unique identifiers, or UIDs, will entirely replace identification schemas ? such as manufacturers' serial numbers - already in use. Since the UID system is geared more towards the tracking of equipment such as tanks, rather than individual parts, such as spark plugs, many smaller items will not require UID's, Ray said.

"Where the unique item is high value, you want to know where each one is located. And that's what a UID will give you," Ray said.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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