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How to establish a National Codification Bureau (NCB)

normal security controls imposed on Defense employees, than those of other Government Departments. STANAG 4438 on the dissemination of data lays down the requirements of data promulgation.


There are many discussions and theories on centralization vs. decentralization of Bureau operations. The concept falls into three major categories:


All codification activity is undertaken by a centralized Bureau under the control of the Department of Defense, or equivalent, and treated as a corporate expense.


Codification activity is undertaken on a delegated basis, by the single services through their logistics organizations with the data being fed to a central catalogue database. The National Codification Bureau retains the policy, procedures, quality control and international transaction functions.


Codification activity is undertaken by a contractor, or contractors, or by another Bureau, to the National Bureau. The National Bureau maintains the central catalogue database and retains the policy, procedures, quality control and international transaction functions.

I will deal with the last concept first. Personally I can see no advantages with this concept.  I cannot see how a contractor can undertake a task like codification, which is a small highly technical profession, as cost effectively as undertaking the codification activity in house. Commercial enterprises have a bottom line motivation which translates to maximized profits from minimum efforts. I would also doubt if they are motivated to provide the best information for the end user of the item of supply, the soldier, sailor or airman. I am well aware of codification work undertaken by contractors where the information provided to the contractor should have resulted in a Type 1 codification, but a Type 2 was provided.  Minimum effort for maximum profit. It is an option, and should therefore be considered.

The other part of this option is for another Bureau to undertake the codification task on your behalf. This would obviously incur costs, but probably not as high as that encountered by using a contractor.  The Defense culture motivation would be there, but you would be competing for codification resources against their own internal priorities.

There is also another consideration to be taken into account with this option and that is co-operation with national Defense industry. A national Bureau would be more likely to obtain information from a national manufacturer than would a contractor to the Bureau, or another Bureau. Readily obtaining information on an item of supply is the key to a successful codification. I will cover industry participation a little later on.

The second decentralized option was that of codification being undertaken by single services. This option has been used by a number of nations. It seems to operate better where the de-centralized functions are in the same geographical area. I wouldn't dare say where the decentralized functions are centralized. The principal disadvantage of this option is that there is the potential for each of the contributing services to operate the rules to differing quality standards.

To illustrate, you may have one service that totally integrates the cataloguing function into its logistics support. No item may enter the inventory until it is properly codified.  Minimum information requirements are well defined and applications for codification services will be rejected if the compulsory fields are not completed. Type 1 codifications are the common result.

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