Corporate membership in NDIA carries with it many benefits, including
opportunities to work on important issues that affect the defense
industry. NDIA offers its members such opportunities primarily through
the work of three divisions: International, Legislative Information
and Procurement. NDIA’s government-policy office, which is
responsible for tracking legislation and regulations that may affect
the association’s members, provides operational support for
these three divisions. As is the case with other NDIA divisions,
participation in government-policy activities is limited to corporate
members and government officials.
NDIA’s International Division offers members the opportunity
to interact with government officials, both foreign and domestic,
and international industry representatives. Recently, for example,
NDIA—in conjunction with the Confederation of Indian Industry
and the U.S.-India Business Council—hosted the U.S.-India
Defense Industry Seminar. This forum brought together the key players
from the U.S. and Indian Defense Departments, as well as industry
representatives from the two countries to discuss security and cooperation
At the NDIA seminar, Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for
policy, discussed major changes in the U.S.-India relationship and
the private sector in India. For example, in September—after
the terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and Pentagon—President
Bush lifted the sanctions imposed on India four years ago by his
During Indian Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee’s visit to the
United States last November, he and Bush pledged to further improvements
to Indo-U.S. relations, including a renewal of military-to-military
ties. The revitalized joint US-India Defense Policy Group resumed
meeting after five years of inactivity.
The Indian government decided in recent months to permit that country’s
private sector to expand into defense production. Since then, U.S.
defense companies have shown renewed interest in Indian business
opportunities. In January, Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes
hosted a roundtable breakfast in Washington, D.C., with representatives
of the U.S. defense industrial base.
The Legislative Information Division gives NDIA members access to
key members of Congress and their staffs, as well as government
and industry executives. The division also provides opportunities
to obtain timely legislative information. At division meetings,
experts conduct briefings on selected topics, followed by informative
question-and-answer sessions. Small settings—recent average
attendance is 60—coupled with frequency of meetings—twice
a month while Congress is in session—and a not-for-attribution
forum provide ample opportunity for participation.
Recent topics have ranged from the defense budget to homeland security,
from campaign-finance reform to technology-security policy. While
NDIA’s members benefit from informative updates and networking
opportunities, government officials can also gauge industry’s
support for or opposition to proposed legislation. To date, over
250 defense companies have participated in the division’s
meetings, ranging from large aerospace firms to small, specialized
For Procurement Division members, brief-ings held six times a year
with the Director of Defense Procurement (DDP) provide a much-valued
opportunity to discuss issues and problems of mutual concern to
industry and the Department of Defense.
These conversations take place in small, informal settings, with
no more than 10-15 rotating attendees, providing a low-key setting
for a meaningful exchange of ideas. Specific topics or questions
are submitted by industry attendees in advance to allow the DDP
staff time to prepare complete responses, often accompanied by point
papers to lead the discussions. However, industry attendees are
welcome to introduce new topics at any time they wish, even during
Earlier this year, in a departure from the traditional question-and-answer
format, the DDP asked defense-related associations to submit a list
of top 10 issues for 2002. After eliminating duplications and combining
similar topics, the DDP staff office produced a compendium of top
issues that was distributed at the May briefing.
Attendees were requested to review the document, reduce the number
of issues to five critical topics, and submit these along, with
an industry-recommended action plan for each. The final list and
recommendations will be presented to the DDP at the July 15th briefing.
Since Department of Defense officials and industry representatives
usually agree on what issues are important and often concur on how
to address them, by focusing on five critical topics and developing
agreed-upon action plans, government and industry will be better
able to work together to achieve results beneficial to all.
Other examples of direct industry interface with government decision-makers
are the regularly scheduled briefings by the Office of the Federal
Procurement Policy Administrator and the Deputy Associate Administrator
for Acquisition Policy at the General Services Administration. Industry
representatives also meet twice a year with the Director, Defense
Contract Management Agency (DCMA) and with other senior DCMA staff
members to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern.