As modern security threats challenge the overall mission readiness of foreign governments, requests are growing for systems with unique defense requirements not supported by the Department of Defense (DoD). This trend is challenging DoD to provide the aerospace and defense industry more flexibility and support in providing mission-specific defense systems to foreign customers.
A non-standard solution – in the form of a non-Program of Record (non-POR) weapons system – has become a wartime adjustment to the unique security environment facing foreign customers. Sales of non-standard systems provide the U.S. Government an essential tool for building partnership capacity and capabilities in the event that a customer’s requirements cannot be fulfilled by the Pentagon. These sales potentially offer a more comprehensive, cost effective, and logistically supportable solution for a foreign customer. Impeding on non-standard solutions, though, are administrative and contracting staffing issues, technology release hurdles, and export licensing approval challenges.
Whereas a Program of Record (POR) weapons system is a line item in DoD's annual budget, a non-POR is an item not under the purview of DoD’s planning and budgetary process. Non-POR’s are either (1) not actively supplied by DoD, (2) are prone to security vulnerabilities, (3) do not have the proper technology release approvals, or (4) are not properly funded, staffed, and resourced to process as a FMS case.
Though non-standard solutions place a high value on requirements tailored to a customer’s needs, it pressures the U.S. supply chain to locate outdated and less innovated products. Since most foreign military sales (FMS) cases are supported by a military department (MILDEP), the contracting officer supporting an FMS case will contract out a specific request through the Commercial Buying Services (CBS) for non-standard items. Simplified Nonstandard Acquisition Process (SNAP), along with the Parts and Repair Ordering System (PROS), is a CBS program that provides FMS customers with such non-standard items.
Possible Solutions and Recommendations
- Advocate for the annual NDAA to provide funding for additional FMS administrative and contracting staff to process non-POR requests;
- Standardize the non-POR process between the major MILDEPs for one coherent process, with a lead case officer in each MILDEP funded with FMS administrative fees;
- Authorize non-POR requests to be processed through the direct commercial sales (DCS) process, with technology release support and funding coming from each MILDEP; and
- Advocate for the U.S. Government to recognize the importance of non-standard solutions to overall security cooperation.