Acquisition

DOD pulls the trigger on the DPA

The Defense Department is issuing its first Defense Production Act contracts -- worth $133 million -- to increase production of protective masks for health care and emergency workers fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

DOD announced April 11 it would issue two contracts for $133 million to boost production of the stock of respiratory N95 masks that protect wearers from airborne particles and liquid to more than 39 million in 90 days. The contracts are authorized under Title 3 of the Defense Production Act, which allows the government to require commercial companies to prioritize its needs over the private sector.

The White House tapped DOD late April 10 to ramp up production under DPA to "ensure the U.S. Government gets dedicated long term industrial capacity to meet the needs of the nation,” according to an April 11 statement from Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, a DOD spokesman.

No information was immediately available about the vendors chosen to execute the contracts.

The White House’s decision to invoke DPA came after much trepidation as President Donald Trump and his advisers resisted calls to use the Cold-War era measure for weeks, arguing that it wasn’t needed as long as companies were cooperating.

DOD leadership was also cautious about offering production beyond explicit requests from the White House, Department of Health and Human Services, or the Federal Emergency and Management Agency.

But the department began preparing for DPA by standing up a task force to coordinate COVID-19 efforts in the Pentagon and across the military services. The group is also charged with directing DOD's use of Defense Production Act authorities, such as using economic incentives and priority-rate defense contracts.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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