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How to establish a National Codification Bureau (NCB)

alternative parts is a primary consideration when on operations, specifically of items that are manufactured to International, National, Defense, or specific to Industry specifications.


Last, but by no means least, is the need to have the Armed Forces of your nation on your side. Show them the benefits of having the NCS. A good example to look for is where each service has purchased the same capital item from the same manufacturer within the same timeframe. Had the different forces been operating a standardized materiel management language, they would have identified a purchase option of combining all their requirements into one order, obtaining economy of scale and gaining pricing advantages, plus the cataloguing exercise would only be done once. I am well aware of this situation. The only one who gained in this scenario was the manufacturer, who is probably still laughing all the way to the Bank. Just picture the amount of initial spares support he must have supplied and profited from.

It is very advisable to establish a legal and regulatory structure to mandate the use of the NCS within National Forces. Making the use of the NCS compulsory for all National Forces, to the exclusion of all other numbering systems, will maximize the benefits of the NCS.

I would suggest that you should negotiate an NCB Charter, which is approved and endorsed by your Government, supported by Defense Headquarters, but administered by the Bureau. The Charter should include a national commitment to the policies and principles of the NCS and should detail the mission statement, objectives and service levels required of the Bureau.  When the initial enthusiasm for the Bureau is at its peak is the best time to get a positive response to such a Charter.  Remember you only get one chance to get an ideal Bureau.

In addition service level agreements between the various National Forces and the Bureau is also advisable.  These agreements will provide valuable information for planning the structure and composition of the Bureau.

That, in my opinion, concludes the big philosophical and political issues affecting the establishment of a National Codification Bureau and progressing towards sponsorship of the NATO Codification System. I would now like to move on to the "nuts and bolts" activities associated with developing a Bureau.


After the preparatory work comes the hard work of developing the Bureau infrastructure. In New Zealand we have a television advertisement for the Pantene brand of hair shampoo and conditioner in which one of our top models, Rachel Hunter, says, "You too can have beautiful hair. It wont happen over night, but it will happen." We have relabeled this to be the Pantene Principle. I can assure you that developing the infrastructure of an NCB is not an overnight task.

In summary I feel the best advice to give is:

"Don't re-invent the wheel".  Everything you are about to do has been done by someone else already.  Remember the system has been working well for half a century. For instance you may wish to evaluate an existing computer based system rather than starting from scratch yourself. There are systems which have been developed by commercial software companies and by, or for, Bureaus in Australia, Czech Republic, Spain and Turkey. Using a PC based system is now a realizable possibility.

The NCS is family, and like any family there may well be times when there are differing opinions on subjects. In the final analysis how you progress in achieving a successful implementation of the NCS in your nation and the establishment of a Bureau is proportional to the contribution you make to the NCS as a whole, now and in the future. The timeframe for implementation will vary depending on the amount of money and resources available. Four years is probably a realistic goal.

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