Vital Signs

Vital Signs

The Health and Readiness of the Defense Industrial Base 

NEW IN 2022: This is the first Vital Signs report to include data on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the health of DIB. 

The National Defense Industrial Association's third annual Vital Signs report is now available. While our main team of authors is based out of Arlington, VA, where the Association is headquartered, our contributing Junior Policy Fellows come from across the nation. We continue to partner with decision-science company, Govini, to produce this report. Learn more about our Vital Signs contributors here.

As a follow-on to Vital Signs 2021, this report delivers another comprehensive assessment of the defense industrial base (DIB) and contributes to the debate about national defense acquisition strategy by offering a common set of indicators — vital signs — of what some have called America’s “sixth service”: the industrial partners who equip our warfighters with their capability advantages.

The report features a collaborative study between NDIA Strategy & Policy and NDIA Emerging Technologies Institute (ETI). With a length of approximately 60 pages, each iteration of the Vital Signs report is able to capture the health of the industrial base in an accessible format for the wider public. Since the report is annual, it serves as an important reference when viewing trends within the DIB and can be used by policymakers, industry professionals, and students alike. See the tables below for more information about the foundational and key elements of Vital Signs 2022.

Foundational Elements

Element Description
Scope The scope of the report will be consistent, offering a broad overview of eight sets of business environment and performance signs
Composite Index Scores Composite index scores are determined by comparing three-year averages to a baseline value
Govini Partnership We continue to partner with Govini, a decision science company, that provides unique and exclusive insights
Overall Health & Readiness Scores
Indicator scores are averaged, which allows for a properly determined overall score for the health and readiness of the DIB
Key Elements
Risk area Description
Covid-19

COVID-19 impacted both Supply Chain and Surge Readiness within the DIB. These Vital Signs experienced the most significant declines from last year, which is indicative of COVID-19’s continued disruption within the U.S. economy.

Competition

New entrants: This year saw another decrease in new entrants, an all time low in our dataset. This is a risk to innovation, as new entrants represent the infusion of new talent and capabilities. This significant decline marks a drop of over 28% from two years ago.

Emerging Technologies

For FY20, Congressional focus in key technologies such as microelectronics and biotechnology increased from the previous year, while hearings that mentioned hypersonics and space — among others — dropped from FY19.

Industrial Security

Industrial security continued to be the worst performing Vital Sign, driven primarily by cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Known vulnerabilities continue to rise at a very high rate, while the severity of each known vulnerability has slightly decreased on average since 2016.

Workforce

Members reported difficulties finding skilled and cleared labor. Without access to a diverse talent pool, DIB companies will struggle to produce the necessary goods and services that maintain our dominance in all domains of warfare. Our study reflects the state of the DIB before the high U.S. quit rates observed in 2022

Survey Results 

Survey Results revealed businesses struggling with the ramifications COVID-19, including protracted labor difficulties. The DIB continues to identify budget stability and acquisition streamlining as top areas the government can address. 

Vital Signs 2022 Roll-Out
Planned Capitol Hill event with DIB Caucus