An area that has experienced greater scrutiny since the advent of global terrorism has been the infiltration of fake and stolen COTS products into the supply chain. This initiative by terrorists has had three primary drivers:
- An “easy” way to generate large profits from an illicit enterprise in order to fund terrorist activities against US Warfighters and others
- The deployment of sub-quality products into the supply plain in order to cause business disruptions and economic harm to US firms
- The erosion of the value of brands and in turn the value of Intellectual Property (IP) rights; this can undermine the foundation of Western capitalism…but that is for another blog
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that 5-10% of world trade employs fake or stolen products. This is a serious problem that provides almost a limitless source of funds to terrorists, besides that of illegal drugs.
The Government and/or its contractors pay the following price for the need to secure the COTS product supply chain:
- Higher insurance costs to mitigate the risks of “being stuck” with fake products or experience the thief of their product
- Higher costs for the security of goods while in storage
- Liabilities for branded products that fail and cause harm
- Higher warranty expenditures for fakes
- Overhead costs for providing surveillance of employee: espionage, bribery and theft
- Authentication efforts to be able to validate the source of goods
- Legal expenses to pursue wrongdoers
As COTS products continue to increase their presence in weapon systems, the above issues will have to be addressed by the Government and its contractors.