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UID Overview Series – Part II – Current State of UID

Military Asset Tracking / UID

This is the second post of our three-part series that focuses on the history of UID, the current state of the mandate, and what to expect for the future. Part II covers the current status of UID and MIL-STD-130. For more information, click the link for Part I.

Emergence of the Collaborative IUID Solution

In early 2002 General James E. Cartwright (Joint Staff J-8) and Mr. Michael W. Wynne (Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (AT&L), agreed that an industry standards based marking approach, which would leverage machine-readable marking, was necessary and that DoD needed a centrally hosted registration system for item unique identification.  This requirement was promulgated by then Honorable E.C. Aldridge, USD (AT&L) and the Honorable Dov S. Zakheim USD (Comptroller),originally called the Universal Identifier Code, and all other similar initiatives were directed to be halted pending the outcome of these dialogues.
In its role as DoD’s executive agent for AIT, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) proposed that a machine-readable materiel identification mark be established in the DLA Memorandum, March 5, 2002, Subject:  Standard Data Elements used in Automatic Identification Technology (AIT) throughout the Department of Defense (DoD) Supply Chain.  The proposed mark contained three elements, characterized as Serial Number, Part Number and Commercial and Government Entity.  On April 3, 2002, the Air Transport Association commented that under this policy, industry would be required to install a unique marking on a part installed on a military product that is exactly the same part as that used on a commercial product.  Subsequently, Mr. Wynne appointed Ms. LeAntha Sumpter to lead development of a more industry friendly interoperable solution.  Ms. Sumpter initiated a series of dialogues with DoD’s domestic and foreign trading partners, international coalition members and the international standards community in late 2002 on approaches to achieve a collaborative IUID solution.
Three primary alternatives were considered to implement IUID marking.  The first alternative was to use existing commercial marking approaches, which may or may not serialize uniquely within a part, facility or company, but do not ensure uniqueness outside of these domains.  In other words, a tank could have the same part number and serial number combination as a commissary frozen food cooler.  This approach did not pass the test for uniqueness and was, therefore, rejected.  The second alternative was for DoD to take responsibility for marking all items as they enter the inventory or were inspected and accepted.  This was also determined not to be a practical alternative given the diversity of delivery locations, acceptance procedures, marking methods for types of items delivered, costs for redundant infrastructure capabilities at multiple and diverse acceptance points, and the increasing number of direct vendor deliveries.  The third and only accepted alternative was to develop a standard marking approach using existing commercial methods and existing item identification data elements.  This solution was developed collaboratively with industry in February, 2003 and is reflected in the IUID policies subsequently issued and executed.  These discussions defined the following ground rules for DoD’s IUID program:
a.   The unique item identifier (UII) has to be globally unique.
b.   Semantics used by all industry sectors have to be accommodated.
c.   Item serialization practices already in use by industry sectors have to be accommodated where it ensures serialization is not repeated.
d.   Construction of the UII must accommodate existing commercial standards that provide global uniqueness in accordance with ISO 15459, Information technology – Unique identifiers.
e.   The UII data carrier has to provide high capacity and accommodate the syntax requirements of ISO/IEC 15434, Transfer Syntax for High Capacity Automatic Data Capture Media.
The following provides a timeline of some of the significant mandates and milestones for the implementation of UID/IUID nationally and internationally.
The collaborative solution described above was first established as a policy forecast by Mr. Wynne on Dec 19, 2002 and made mandatory by Mr. Wynne in his new role as the Acting Under Secretary (AT&L) on Jul 29, 2003 for all new acquisitions beginning Jan 1, 2004 and strongly encouraged all component acquisition executives to “incorporate into ongoing contracts where it makes business sense to do so”.  This made UID (later to be known as IUID) mandatory across the DoD in all contracts where the specified criteria applied and implementation would be achieved through a mandatory interim DFARS rule.  It would be a few years before the components reported consistently high compliance rates for including the mandatory UID/IUID clause in applicable new contracts.
December 23, 2004 then USD (AT&L), Mr. Wynne directed  the application of UID to existing personal property in inventory and in operational use, that is, legacy items, and to formally extend the policy to items at organic DoD depots with specific timelines for DoD and Military Department implementation dates.  This memo also requested the military departments to direct all program and item managers to develop IUID Program Implementation Plans.
On May 12, 2005, then USD (AT&L), Mr. Wynne directed that all effective Jan 1 2006, all new solicitations and contracts that included Government Furnished Property (GFP) must comply with the IUID requirements and effectively immediately all acquisition milestone reviews were to address IUID implementation.   Other significant dates and actions follow:

  • In December 2005, GSA provided guidance to its workforce on IUID implementation when DoD acquires applicable items through GSA contracts and schedules.
  • September 1, 2006 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) distributed NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 2290, Unique Identification (UID) of Items embracing the US DoD led UID/IUID for all national marking where item level uniqueness was required.
  • Dec 26, 2006, DODI 4151.19, “Serialized Item Management” was signed.  It directed IUID implementation on all items DoD designates for item-level serial management, including, but not limited to, all items designated for Unique Item Tracking (UIT) and Serial Number Tracking (SNT).  It directs these items shall be marked with a Unique Item Identifier (UII) and meet the pedigree data reporting requirements of IUID.
  • December 4, 2007, Mr. Shay Assad, Director Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy (DPAP), established a DoD scorecard for IUID implementation with the Components reporting semi-annual compliance to the Director, DPAP.
  • Jun 16, 2008, DODI 8320.04, “Item Unique Identification Standards for Tangible Personal Property” was signed to consolidate and institutionalize all previous direction on IUID.
  • Oct 16, 2008, USD(AT&L), the Honorable John J Young, directed DLA, Navy and Air Force to ensure that individual Nuclear Weapons Related Material (NWRM) items will be accounted for using IUID.
  • Aug 3, 2009, USD (AT&L) responding to NDAA 2009 Sec 815, directed that all unique tooling associated with the production of MDAP hardware that is identified by the Program Manager for retention, preservation and storage be in serviceable condition and be designated as DoD serially managed and comply with IUID requirements.

As part of NATO adoption of STANAG 2290 and in recognition of “UID of Items” policy requirements in place by the US, Netherlands, United Kingdom and the existence of the NATO UID of Items Registry hosted at NAMSA in Luxemburg. Allied Committee 327, “Lifecycle Management Group” established a new Working Group (WG5) and appointed Mr. Robert Leibrandt, US DoD as its first chairman in March of 2008 due to his experience in leading UID implementation in the US DoD for Ms. Sumpter from 2003 to the present.  This Working Group expanded its membership to include Industry, the Asset Tracking Working Group which established STANAG 2290 and the NATO Codification organization (Allied Committee 135) to expand its influence and ensure greater awareness of UID and publication of Allied Publication AUIDP-1, “NATO Guidance on UID of Items” in July 2010.  This guide provides a roadmap for either a NATO Organization, NATO nation or even a contractor seeking to implement a comprehensive UID of Items capability.  WG5 currently supports integration of UID of Items requirements and capabilities in other NATO functional business areas (e.g. Configuration Management, Reliability, Warranty Management) and directly supports a new Shareable Operational Resources Tool (SORT) which improves multinational operations by providing web-based visibility of items and services and offering nation wishes to loan or sell to other nations.  The data includes item level lifecycle data where the item is UID of Items managed by the offering nation.
The most recent direction came on Dec 30, 2010, when a USD(AT&L) memorandum signed for the Honorable Ashton Carter directed policy refinements only for secondary items in use and in inventory based on an approved Joint Logistics Board study and with the agreement of the Comptroller.  This memorandum also established the term “unique item level traceability” as the benchmark where IUID and Serialized Item Management (SIM) would apply for secondary items in use and in inventory.  The Joint Logistics Board study published in Jun 8, 2010 and updated Mar 11, 2011 found that full implementation of IUID within the Services would produce annual savings of $3B-$5B when fully implemented in 3 areas – Product Lifecycle Management, Property Accountability and Intensive Item Management.  Implementation costs estimated at $7.1B in the original report were reduced by nearly 50% to $3.2B.  The main intent was to exclude items that are never managed at the individual item and only at the National Stock Number, part number or lot number that could be misinterpreted under previous guidance to be included.  An example, are millions of fasteners that are bought in bulk, stored in large containers, but could be considered as controlled inventory.  These items were clearly never intended to be part of the population of IUID required items.
Look for Part III of the series, which highlights the future of UID and MIL-STD-130.
Feel free to post your questions or comments. If you have more specific UID policy questions, check out our durable UID Labels and services, or Ask an Expert.

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