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How to establish a National Codification Bureau (NCB)

K. Excerpts From A Briefing By Mr. Jim Burns, Retired Chief Of The New Zealand NCB And Past Chairman Of The Pacific Area Cataloging System (PACS) Working GroupMade To The Group Of National Directors On Codification 2nd Annual Partnership Day Battle Creek, MI 20 May 1999

With what I have said as a background I would now like to move onto the purpose of this presentation, that of what is involved in establishing a National Codification Bureau. One condition of achieving sponsorship to NCS is that a country will represent itself through a SINGLE National Codification Bureau.

This Bureau will have the responsibility for the application of the NATO Codification System.

Each current NCS participating nation operates through the one point of contact, the National Codification Bureau. However, to the best of my knowledge, as I stated earlier, there are no two nations that operate their Bureaus by the same methods. While each nation satisfies the external requirements of the operation of the NCS, they have customized the internal operation of their Bureau to accommodate the mandates and operating conditions appropriate to their nation.

In my opinion you only get one chance to establish a Bureau correctly. That is the first chance.  If the condition and mood is right politically for progressing to NCS membership, then this is also the ideal condition to establish the ultimate National Codification Bureau. I can assure you that as the year's progress and the Bureau just becomes another logistics function then you will be continually looked at by the money cutters. They have a habit of targeting functions they don't understand.  So what should be considered?


Should the Bureau be established for Defense purposes only or should it be for all Government Departments?

In a number of countries the Bureau operates with a mandate covering all Government Departments, where they all use, or are encouraged to use, the NCS disciplines in the management of their inventories.  Here in the United States they have the Federal Supply System applicable to a number of Federal Government Departments. The stock numbering system is an integral part of that supply system.  The Canadian Bureau also has a responsibility as the Government Bureau.  The more common approach is that the Bureau has the responsibility for the Armed Forces materiel management, but encourages the use of the system by other Government and Defense industry participants.

The advantage of being the Government Bureau is that all Government entities use the same stock numbers to identify the same item. It is possible through this to maximize the use of finance available for inventory within the Government consumers.  It is also possible to provide national industry with more accurate forecasting of Government annual requirements of particular products.  For example empty 10 liter plastic pails.  If the total annual Government requirement for the pails was put out for registration of interest, industry would be able to plan its production more accurately, and economy of scale price advantages would also be realizable. There is also the ability to redistribute Government stocks if one Department has a surplus of a commodity, while another has a shortfall.

Naturally there are also disadvantages of being a Government Bureau. The principal one being of data security, specifically characteristics data. Because of the need to provide a concise identification as part of the standard associated with codification, some manufacturers reveal to the Codification Authority processes and products that currently give that manufacturer a leading edge in their industry.  If you expect to have an ongoing relationship based on trust with industry, you must protect the information provided by industry to the same degree that an employee is obligated not to reveal their employer's trade secrets. This can obviously be more realistically achieved under the

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