Legislative Action Center

Webinar Explores Government Working Dog Acquisition Practices and Challenges
April 6, 2021 by AKC Government Relations

On March 31, the AKC Detection Dog Task Force (DDTF) sponsored a webinar on Government working dog acquisition practices and challenges. Guest speakers Captain Jason Passarella (USAF) and 1st LT. Robert Ocampo (USAF), presented their report “Research and Analysis of the American Domestic Government Working Dog Industry” conducted as part of their research while at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 2020.

Passarella and Ocampo outlined their research problem as: “The lack of a robust supply of Government Working Dogs (GWDs) creates increased supply chain risk and may threaten the ability of departments and agencies that utilize working dogs to maintain readiness if the supply from foreign markets is contested or interrupted for an extended period.” Based on this statement, their research focused on two questions:

  1. What are the factors affecting the domestic supply of working dogs?
  2. What actions can the federal government take to improve the domestic supply of working dogs?

Using traditional research methodologies including a literature review, mixed qualitative and quantitative analysis (including in-depth interviews and spend analysis), and market analysis, Passarella and Ocampo put together the most comprehensive report on acquisition of working dogs in 15 years. 

Thorough research on working dog spending revealed opaque and inconsistent patterns of government spending for working dogs from both non-domestic and domestic sources across multiple agencies and departments. The authors found that approximately $38 million in spending was documented by five federal government agencies over a five-year period. 

In-depth interviews further revealed that small businesses and individuals consistently experienced significant challenge in attempting to collaborate and/or conduct business with the federal government.  

Capt. Passarella and 1st LT. Ocampo provided numerous recommendations, including the development of a communications plan to improve communications and transparency in the acquisitions program. The plan focuses on four key areas: 

  • Print/Digital Media – Representatives from GWD programs should be present in the current media. A centralized repository of standardized information should be developed and maintained.
  • Attendance at Industry Events - Representatives from GWD programs should regularly attend national, regional and local initiatives to raise awareness within the working dog industry. The American Kennel Club should be key in leading these networking events.
  • Tools and Resources – The federal government should establish a GWD program website that explains the acquisition process and provides information on how breeders/sellers can register to do business with the federal government. Monetary assistance and expertise should be made available to interested firms.
  • Consistency of Message – A strategic government-wide marketing approach should be developed to assure clarity and consistency of messaging to GWD providers and the public.

To learn more, view a recording of the virtual presentation. 

Read the full report and detailed research here. 


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