BANNOCKBURN, Ill.–Congress adjourned last week without taking action on the House version of the Fiscal Year 2011 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill, which sources say contains a provision directing the Department of Defense (DoD) to conduct a defense industrial base assessment of the printed board industry and its supply chain. A direct result of IPC’s lobbying efforts, the defense industrial base assessment provision is a key step in ensuring the future supply of secure, high-technology defense electronics. When Congress resumes in November 2010, IPC expects the DoD Appropriations Bill to be finalized by Congress and signed by the President.
According to Mark Osborn, president and CEO, Colonial Circuits, Inc., and a member of the IPC Government Relations Committee and IPC DoD Task Force, “This in-depth examination of the printed board and electronics supply chain is needed to support ongoing efforts to maintain a strong U.S. printed board industry and to identify and recommend actions for strengthening the PCB industry’s ability to meet future DoD needs.”
The DoD’s substantially increased use of commercial off-the-shelf electronics over the past decade combined with intense competition in the global electronics industry has resulted in a consolidation of the U.S. printed board industry. While the U.S. has a competent and competitive printed board supply base capable of meeting DoD needs, ensuring a continued, secure supply of new technology will require DoD involvement. Osborn explains, “Measures must be taken now to address the U.S. printed board industry’s ability to meet future DoD needs, including manufacturing for sensitive high-technology military electronics. U.S. national security is at risk if the military cannot domestically obtain leading-edge electronics for defense systems … leaving the DoD vulnerable to counterfeit parts, unreliable components and lack of technological expertise to meet its requirements.”
IPC has been working with Congress to insert and subsequently enact legislative language directing the DoD to conduct the assessment of the printed board industry and its supply chain. During IPC Capitol Hill Day in June 2010, IPC members met with legislators and staff to bring them up-to-date on the critical need to support the industry by enacting legislation for the assessment. The assessment is expected to assist the DoD in ensuring that their future electronics requirements are fulfilled, aid in supporting the U.S. printed board industry’s capability to support DoD needs and further preserve national security.