Defense Department pushes for better tracking of parts and supplies

With the New Year, Defense Department contractors will be required to mark items delivered to DoD with unique identifiers such as bar codes or radio frequency ID tags. Contractors will also be required to identify the unit cost of all hardware items delivered under a contract.

An interim procurement rule published Dec. 30 in the Federal Register lays out the new requirements. It applies to all Defense Department solicitations issued on or after Jan. 1.

"The objective of the rule is to improve management of DoD assets. DoD considers this rule to be a strategic imperative, necessary to efficiently move supplies to war fighters," Michele Peterson, executive editor of the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council, wrote in the Federal Register.

Comments on the interim rule are due by March 1, for consideration in the formation of the final rule. Comments can be submitted at http://emissary.acq.osd.mil/dar/dfars.nsf/pubcomm or sent via e-mail to dfars@osd.mil. DFARS Case 2003-D081 should be cited in the subject line of e-mailed comments. After March 1, comments can be read at http://emissary.acq.osd.mil/dar/dfars.nsf.

The new requirements will "enhance logistics, contracting, and financial business transactions supporting U.S. and coalition troops; will enable DoD to consistently capture the value of items it buys, control these items during their use, and combat counterfeiting of parts; and will enable DoD to make appropriate entries into its property accountability, inventory, and financial management information systems," according to the interim rule.

Single hardware articles or units formed by a grouping of parts will need to be marked with unique identification when they cost $5,000 or more. Department officials may also require unique identification on some items costing less than $5,000. The contractor is required to provide the unique identification mark and the acquisition cost at the time of delivery.

Software, manuals and other forms of information do not need to have unique identifiers, according to the interim rule.

DoD unique item identifiers must have machine-readable data elements that will distinguish each item from all other like and unlike items. Accepted machine-readable data elements include bar codes, contact memory buttons, radio frequency identification or optical memory cards, the interim rule said.

If unique item identification is not required, the interim rule requires contractors to identify items with a marking system in use in commercial industry. Some examples of commonly accepted commercial marks are the Electronic Industries Alliance EIA 802 Product Marking Standard and the Telecommunications Manufacturers Common Language Equipment Identification Code.

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