Type: Law Bulletins
Date: 03/27/2020

DOD Seeking to Acquire Personal Protective Equipment Under Defense Production Act Authority

In our latest article about the Defense Production Act (DPA or Act), we noted that the Act had been invoked, allowing the Federal Government significant flexibility in acquiring goods and services in response to the COVID-19 crisis. A recent interview revealed one of the first agencies who will take advantage of this authority: the Department of Defense (DOD).

In that interview, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, Ellen Lord, indicates that the DOD plans to use its DPA authority to acquire necessary medical personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves. The DOD has established a task force to field the requests for PPE from multiple government agencies.

“The task force will leverage DOD authorities for maximum acquisition flexibility—I emphasize ‘flexibility’—to provide resilient capability in the current health crisis,” Lord said.

Also on DOD’s agenda during this crisis is to track “good ideas from industry” in one central repository. This will allow agencies to find creative solutions to their problems for both technical and manufacturing issues.

Lord implied that DOD would use its full DPA authority to both rate orders and to allocate materials in order to obtain the items it needs. She also indicated that the president’s reluctance to declare that the DPA has been fully invoked applies only to the aspects of the Act which allow full takeover of private industry. In her mind, the DOD has full DPA authority for defense-related items, and will use the new task force to guide other types of acquisitions under the Act as well.

Please visit our COVID-19 Toolkit for all of Taft’s updates on the coronavirus.

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