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GAO uncovers use of counterfeit parts in military equipment

Watchdog says the Pentagon is unable to determine extent of the problem in its supply chain.

Investigators at the Government Accountability Office have discovered counterfeit parts in military equipment and found that the Defense Department is unable to determine the extent of the problem in its supply chain.

The Pentagon lacks a departmentwide definition of the term "counterfeit" and a consistent means of identifying instances of suspected counterfeit parts, GAO said in a report released on Thursday. The report, which was requested by Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Evan Bayh, D-Ind., recommends Defense establish anti-counterfeiting guidance and disseminate it across the department and among defense contractors.

"The GAO report makes it absolutely clear that counterfeit parts can enter the DoD supply chain at any point in what is a complex and increasingly global network of suppliers," Brown said. "Until there is a departmentwide 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. service men and women and national security."

Brown, who is chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy, said he plans to hold a hearing on the issue.