Vital Signs

The Health and Readiness of the Defense Industrial Base 


NEW IN 2022: The report will feature a first-ever collaboration between NDIA Strategy & Policy and NDIA Emerging Technologies Institute (ETI). With ETI’s research expertise in emerging technologies and NDIA’s extensive understanding of the defense industrial base environment, we expect to see exciting findings in Vital Signs 2022. Learn more about ETI at

The National Defense Industrial Association's second annual Vital Signs report is now available. While our main authorial team is based out of Arlington, VA, where the Association is headquartered, our contributing Junior Policy Fellows come from across the nation. Learn more about our Vital Signs contributors under the Contributors tab.

As a follow-on to the inaugural Vital Signs 2020, this report delivers another comprehensive assessment of the defense industrial base (DIB) and contributes to the debate about national defense acquisition strategy by offering a common set of indicators—vital signs—of what some have called America’s “sixth service,” the industrial partners who equip our warfighters with their capability advantages.

As this report has been prepared throughout 2020 based on data that was first available in January of this year, the effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are not evident in Vital Signs 2021. Rather, most of the report's data reflects the state of the DIB just as the United States was experiencing the first impacts of the pandemic. In other words, Vital Signs 2021 will demonstrate the environment amid which we entered into the COVID-19 pandemic. While the data being used for the report is from before the pandemic, some of the recent regulations and policies—such as Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—that came out of COVID-19 are covered. Next year, we will have data that covers the onset and height of the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling us to further explore and cover its impact on the DIB in Vital Signs 2022.

Nevertheless, this report continues to serve as an unclassified overview of the health of the DIB. With a length of approximately 70 pages, each iteration of the Vital Signs report is able to capture the health of the industrial base without becoming inaccessible to most readers. Since the report is annual, it serves as an important reference when viewing trends within the DIB and can be used by policymakers, industry professionals, and students alike. See the tables below for more information about the foundational and key elements of Vital Signs 2021.

Foundational Elements

Element Description
Scope The scope of the report will be consistent, offering a broad overview of eight sets of business environment and performance conditions
Composite Index Scores Composite index scores are determined by comparing three-year averages to a baseline value
Govini Partnership We continue to partner with Govini, a data science company, that provides unique and exclusive insights
Overall Health & Readiness Scores
Indicator scores are averaged, like a GPA, which allows for a properly determined overall score for the health and readiness of the DIB
Key Elements
Element Description
Political & Regulatory Dissemination of the Vital Signs 2021 Member Survey and inclusion of an expanded congressional interest analysis section
Production Capacity & Surge Readiness Production Capacity and Surge Readiness were emphasized in the Vital Sign 2021 Member Survey
Demand Enhanced study of foreign military sales and contract vehicle breakdowns
Financial Analysis Adoption of Mergent Online, a financial research tool for SEC financial filings
Graphics Improved graphics production process
Member Involvement Increased member involvement, including widespread participation in member survey
Vital Signs 2021 Roll-Out
Planned Capitol Hill event with DIB Caucus and written feature in upcoming January issue of National Defense Magazine