Under the Defense Production Act (DPA), federal agencies can require companies to prioritize government contracts during a national emergency like the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there have been some challenges in using that authority, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.
- William Russell, director of contracting and national security acquisitions at GAO, said agencies have been using the DPA at an unprecedented scale during Covid-19 and that it has been instrumental in helping them acquire personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, N95 masks, syringes and other medical supplies.
- Russell said the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) were initially not accustomed to using the DPA but have devoted more resources to it since.
- He said GAO recommended the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provide additional guidance to agencies on how to flag when the DPA is used, which OMB has implemented.
- Russell said there is additional DPA funding that can support further domestic expansion of the medical supply base and that GAO will continue to track expenditures.
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