* Senator says latest report is "deeply troubling"
* GAO used fictitious company to buy parts
* All 40 offers for bogus part numbers came from China
By Andrea Shalal-Esa
WASHINGTON, March 26 U.S. government
investigators, using a fictitious company, were able to easily
find electronic parts for weapons from China on the Internet and
every single item they bought was counterfeit, despite China's
pledge to crack down on fake products.
A new report by the congressional Government Accountability
Office showed that 334 of 396 vendors who offered to sell parts
to the fictitious company were from China.
It said all 16 parts eventually purchased by the fake
company came from 13 China-based vendors and all were determined
by an independent testing laboratory to be counterfeit.
"These findings should outrage every American," said Senator
Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who heads the Senate Armed
Services Committee, calling the new report "deeply troubling."
"The Chinese government's refusal to shut down
counterfeiting that occurs openly in their country puts our
national security and the safety of our military men and women
at risk. It also costs thousands of American jobs."
Levin and the top Republican on the committee, Senator John
McCain, blasted China last year for failing to control a flood
of counterfeit parts installed on U.S. weapons systems.
At the time, they said committee investigators had
identified about 1,800 cases involving one million counterfeit
parts since 2009.
They asked the GAO to carry out the fictitious shopping trip
as part of the committee's broader investigation, which is
nearing completion. The GAO specifically requested parts that
were new in original packaging, not refurbished.
McCain said the GAO report made clear how easily Chinese
counterfeiters were able to access the U.S. market.
Given the lack of any crackdown by China, Levin said it was
critical that the U.S. Treasury and Department of Homeland
Security stop counterfeit products from entering the country,
using authorities added to last year's defense authorization
"There is too much at stake for us to delay," Levin said.
The GAO cautioned that the results of the latest report were
based on a small sample and could not be used to make inferences
about the extent to which parts were being counterfeited.
It said it bought seven parts with authentic part numbers
that were out of production, including parts used on the Air
Force's F-15 fighters, the Marine Corps' V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor
aircraft and the Navy's nuclear submarines. All of those parts
failed inspection and were determined to be counterfeit.
It also purchased five parts with authentic part numbers
that were stamped with date codes beyond the item's last actual
production date and all of those were determined to be
counterfeit as well.
The agency also bought four parts with made-up numbers that
are not associated with any authentic parts, which it said
showed the willingness of the vendors "to supply parts that do
not technically exist." All 40 of the responses it received for
the bogus part numbers came from Cina, the GAO said.
The GAO also noted it was able to get membership on two
Internet buying platforms fairly easily, while a third rejected
the request from the fictitious company. None of the platforms
contacted the company's listed references, it said.
Parts for defense systems are bought from many sources,
which often are infiltrated by counterfeit items, the senators
said. China has been identified nearly five times more
frequently than any other country as a source of counterfeit
parts, according to a U.S. Commerce Department report.
After the November Senate hearing, a spokesman for the
Chinese Foreign Ministry rejected the committee's findings and
said China was committed to fighting fake products.