June 16 - 23, 2011 ICE, CBP, FBI, DCIS and Other Federal Agencies Launch "Operation Chain Reaction"
On June 14, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) launched a new initiative called "Operation Chain Reaction," which targets counterfeit software and other items entering the supply chains of the Department of Defense (DOD) and other government agencies.
The IPR Center is a government task force focused on intellectual property theft. Nine of the 18 IPR Center members are participating in the initiative, including the Customs and Border Protection, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Command, the General Services Administration, the Defense Logistics Agency and the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
"Counterfeit and pirated goods present a triple threat to America," said ICE Director John Morton. "They rob Americans of jobs and their innovative ideas; fuel organized crime; and create a serious public safety risk."
In March, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that suppliers who knowingly misrepresent the identity or makeup of parts could "seriously disrupt the Department of Defense supply chain, delay missions and affect the integrity of weapons systems." The GAO report revealed that the Army has purchased counterfeit seatbelt claps and the Navy has acquired counterfeit computer routers.
"Protecting America's warfighters by countering the introduction of counterfeit, non-conforming and substandard materials into the Department of Defense's procurement system has historically been - and will continue to be - one of the [DCIS's] highest priorities," said DOD's Office of Inspector General James B. Burch. "Although investigations of this nature have always comprised a significant portion of DCIS's case inventory, Operation Chain Reaction will afford DCIS and our law enforcement partners an unprecedented opportunity to collectively address this serious problem."
James Ives of DCIS said the office is currently investigating 45 possible instances of counterfeit goods. He also said the office is investigating over 200 allegations of substandard or non-conforming parts that do not meet military specifications, which may also involve counterfeit parts.
The Senate Armed Services Committee began an investigation into counterfeit parts in March, which includes microprocessors that were purchased by the Air Force for flight control computers in Boeing's F-15 fighter jets and microcircuits purchased by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. Lawmakers have sent letters to China requesting visas to investigate the source of the counterfeit electronics being supplied to the U.S. However, Chinese officials have asked the investigators to postpone the trip.
Operation Chain Reaction is the first time all participants of the IPR Center have worked together to collectively address the problem. To learn more about the IPR Center, click here.