Back in April of this year, I penned a blog in our Tracking Trends eNewsletter entitled, “IUID. A Potential Antidote to Government Waste.” In it, I spoke a bit on the estimated worth of all Department of Defense assets ($3 trillion) and how a significant portion of DoD assets are unaccounted for – they either can’t be found (hidden assets) or are otherwise unrecorded (presumably due to clerical error or procedural inefficiencies). I also presented a couple of options for fighting this waste. One way was to focus on managing the assets the department already owns more efficiently. Another was to adopt a technology that reduces the instance of duplicate, obsolete and unneeded assets. And I proposed a viable solution to achieve both options: implementing IUID barcode technology.

My understanding of the waste the DoD generates using the status quo was reinforced when, just last month, Reuters investigative reporter, Scot Paltrow, released a video describing how the U.S. Armed Services are spending billions of dollars to store – and sometimes destroy – excess equipment and outdated materiel. The information contained in the video, entitled, “Billions in Pentagon Spending Down a Black Hole,” stemmed from visits the reporter made to military warehouses where such waste was revealed.

Mr. Paltrow’s recent account compels me to reiterate that it doesn’t have to be this way. The technology to reduce or eliminate wasteful asset management practices, take control of asset stockpiles and save billions of dollars is available right now. Today. It’s IUID.

I realize that military budgets are shrinking – especially with the onset of budget sequestration. This is another reason why adopting IUID to identify and track every single military asset is so manifestly necessary and sensible. IUID offers the best possible solution for navigating through the perfect storm of both DoD belt-tightening and waste. In fact, the Armed Services is already integrating IUID and has marked over 22 million items. You can achieve results by implementing in baby steps, spreading out expenditures while realizing benefits as you go.

  • Find an IUID systems integrator such as A2B, who allows you to start small and grow the effort as practicable. IUID is not an all-or-nothing proposition. For example, in a current program, A2B is literally creating an IUID infrastructure for one DoD customer building by building as budgets allow.
  • Focus on key processes that will provide you the best return on your IUID investment. You can begin reaping the benefits of IUID – tighter inventory accountability and asset visibility – right away by implementing it in processes that will give you the most traction. In another program, A2B started out by first establishing a baseline inventory control process, then expanded the operation by installing equipment to label or scan new items entering the inventory, as well as those being removed from stock.
  • Bring your OEMs in step with the program by requiring that they mark assets properly and consistently using IUID. Perform quality checks to make sure they’re complying.

At a time of reduced budgets and cries for austerity in the face of mounting government debt, we shouldn’t have to accept continued waste in the military: not when the answer is so simple and the technology so immediately available. I have a feeling I’ll be checking back on this article months from now to find the kinds of stories outlined in Scot Paltrow’s video have subsided. With the adoption of IUID in the military as well as the greater defense community, I think the chances are good.