The release of the Executive Order 13806 report assessing the state of the manufacturing and defense industrial base highlighted important information gaps in the strategic conversation about defense industrial policy. In particular, there is a lack of a common baseline indicator of the health of the defense industrial base (DIB). The 13806 report, and IndPol’s “Annual Capabilities” reports are rigorous and extensive examinations of the challenges and risks to production capabilities for MDAPs. However, their public unclassified versions do not provide the defense community a numerate and succinct summary of overall DIB health, or define a trend line in DIB health with rigor.

An alternative but complementary approach to studying the defense industrial base would account for business environment conditions that affect the ability of companies in the DIB to meet the needs of the national defense enterprise, in addition to rigorous production capabilities assessment. Moreover, a longitudinal statistical data set about the health of the defense industrial base would provide a common and easy-to-understand reference point for national defense policymakers.

Vital Signs 2020