Expediting U.S. humanitarian assistance to Haiti?

So far I have heard very little mentioning of the possible use of the Defense Priorities and Allocations System (DPAS) regulation (15 CFR Part 700) to expedite deliveries of goods and services supporting the humanitarian efforts in Haiti. The DPAS, which is use routinely by the Department of Defense, allows for the placement of priority ratings on contracts and purchase orders with U.S. suppliers for programs supporting the “national defense”.

The statutory authority for the DPAS comes from Title I of the Defense Production Act, and its definition of “national defense” has been amended to include emergency preparedness activities and critical infrastructure protection and restoration, including in support of requests by foreign nations. Thus, the DPAS could play an important role not simply in expediting humanitarian supplies now, but in expediting items, such as construction materials, to support the restoration of damaged critical infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, hospitals, etc.

Basically, the DPAS could be a useful tool in expediting reconstruction efforts once contracts are awarded in the weeks and months ahead. My only fear is that USAID and other USG agencies supporting the U.S. Government’s Reconstruction and Stabilization team that will be involved in placing such contracts will have no clue that this authority exists!!!!

While I suspect that much of the U.S. Government’s assistance, as being coordinated by USAID and the military, is coming from our own stockpiles/inventory, the use of the DPAS should also be considered to obtain items that may be delayed because of other non-rated orders, as well as restocking our own inventories that are depleted. During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the DPAS was rarely used because most Federal, State, and local responders did not know this authority existed. The one exception was that the DPAS was used to expedite the restoration of damaged railroads, which were up and running in about 7 days instead of months had they relied on unrated orders of the free market.

Feel free to learn more about how to request DPAS assistance and visit the Department of Commerce DPAS program Web site at:


Since FEMA would likely be the lead DPAS agency working with USAID to use the DPAS in helping to expedite the delivery of goods, services, construction materials to Haiti, folks should visit their DPAS program Web site as well:


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