Cover: Findings from Existing Data on the Department of Defense Industrial Base

Findings from Existing Data on the Department of Defense Industrial Base

Published Nov 6, 2014

by Nancy Young Moore, Clifford A. Grammich, Judith D. Mele


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Research Questions

  1. How can policymakers monitor the health and effective management of the defense supplier base?
  2. Are there data quality issues with existing federal reporting systems?
  3. Can the Department of Defense use existing data sources to gain information on their contractors and subcontractors?

To demonstrate the potential of existing data to provide information on the defense supplier base, the researchers conducted some illustrative analyses using, among other sources, the System for Award Management, the Federal Procurement Data System — Next Generation, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act Subaward Reporting System (FSRS), and the U.S. Geological Survey. Of these, the FSRS is the most recent and its coverage of subaward dollars is expanding as older contracts expire and are replaced with ones with FSRS reporting requirements. Using these data can identify small-business participation in the supply base as well as the vulnerability of contractors and subcontractors to changes in their federal government prime contract and subcontract revenue or environmental risks. Such information can help policymakers better understand potential risks in the supply chain and better shape industrial-base policies. Adding data on natural-disaster risks can also help identify external sources of supply disruption and point to potential buffering strategies.

Key Findings

Analysis of existing federal data can help ensure the health and effective management of the defense supplier base while minimizing the use of surveys.

  • Data already exist in several federal sources.

Federal contractors do not always provide accurate and timely updates on their revenue and that of their subcontractors.

  • The Department of Defense should encourage contractors to provide accurate information and to update that information regularly.

Existing data sources can help the Department of Defense gain visibility into its contractors and their subcontractors.

  • Existing data are readily available even though the quality of some data sources needs to be improved.


  • The Department of Defense should encourage and verify that prime contractors with reportable contracts report their subawards.
  • The Department of Defense should work to improve the quality of prime contractor and subcontractor revenue and other size data.
  • The Department of Defense should consider surveying subcontractors on their subcontractors, not just those on recently awarded contracts subject to reporting.
  • Contractor analyses should be expanded using other data, such as data on supplier financial risks and vulnerability to natural disasters at their place of performance and data on key weapon-system parts.

This research was conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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