Aircraft carrier deck with multiple parked fighter jets.

Compliance Creates Alliance

Products and services for military purposes are subject to strong and complex legal frameworks. This is essential for the protection of vital controlled defense articles and services. Getting and being involved means having responsibility, and therefore securing and adapting your processes and control mechanisms

Text: Peter Buiting NIDV Magazine

Competitive advantages are in reach which is essential in today’s aerospace and defense industry. How? We asked Mike Farrell, with 35 years of experience with US and EU trade compliance regulations, to share some insights.

Bureaucracy or Bureau-crazy?

Exorbitantly long delays in defense programs, exclusion from certain programs and large fines are the result of an inadequate mindset and compliance monitoring systems. Mistakes will be made; however, the consequences are very significant. The mindset with US export controls and enforcement agencies is quite liberating. Reaching out transparently proves good intent. This is one of Mike’s many examples to revisit compliance. Away from a bureaucratic red tape boogieman image. “Everyone makes mistakes; anyone who does not either covers something up or is too stupid to know.” (Former Director State department).

In business relations, knowing the regulatory environment is deeply beneficial. As an example: Everyone in the chain of business has a collective and personal responsibility for controlled products and services.. Mike, a UK cadet in an earlier life, recounts his first drill sergeant’s summary of this advantage: “If you learn the rules better than any other officer, no one can **** you”. That expletive has become more likely in recent decades. The exponential growth of documentation and data, and analytical tools playing catch-up, improves the odds that omissions and negligence are discovered. As in all learning environments, taking mistakes in stride feels exposed at first, but will improve your effectiveness and secure your organization.

Compliance in practice

Compliance in Aerospace and defense means conforming to rules and regulations The real work starts by defining the Jurisdictions and subsequently by translating the requirements to an Export Control Management System (Risk matrix and to policies, procedures and work instructions) . Once compliance has reached the behavioral stage, be prepared to get involved in a much less clear-cut world: culture, behavior compliance Many more colleagues than just compliance officers alone will need to share responsibilities. They need to know the organization supports them when sharing and defining risks, which in hierarchical/political environments is a constant balancing act. Finding a working match between procedures and a working culture, corporate, national or international cultures, will differ each time. The top brass has to be on board and supportive: “Compliance starts at the top and begins at the bottom.”

How does this affect me?

Compliance is essentially your “license” to operate. Risk mitigation or security work is not easily combined with an entrepreneurial mindset, yet lives and democracies must be able to depend on your contributions. “Why would you endanger or be a national security risk? To cut corners for profit margins? Compliance is in essence an integrity test: accepting judicious rules for the greater benefit. That does not mean blindly ticking boxes: going through a client’s workflow with the compliance requirements has often led to new insights and innovations and great business potential.”