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DPAS Certification: Standard Definition, Audit Requirements

Xomety X
By Team Xometry
May 31, 2023
 11 min read
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DPAS stands for Defense Priorities and Allocations System. It is not a certification standard like ISO 9000. It is a regulatory framework used for prioritizing and allocating resources in US defense-related industries during times of national defense emergency or crises. The DPAS certification is a designation that allows a company to participate in defense-related contracts and programs. It signifies that the company is authorized to receive priority treatment in terms of government contracts, orders, and other resources. The equivalent of a DPAS certification is typically required for companies that engage in contracts with the Department of Defense (DoD) and other defense agencies.

Audit requirements may vary according to the nature of the registered companies' business area or the nature of the defense contracts they participate in. Requirements can also vary somewhat, based on the contracting agency.

What Is a DPAS Certification?

There is no specific certification within the DPAS system, but companies wishing to participate in DPAS orders must comply with the requirements. Under DPAS, the government can prioritize the delivery of goods and services to support defense requirements and allocate resources accordingly. It ensures that critical supplies, materials, and services are available to meet the national defense needs of the United States.

To participate in defense-related contracts and programs, companies must comply with the regulations and guidelines outlined in the Defense Priorities and Allocations System. They do not obtain certification but rather must adhere to the requirements of relevant government agencies. This requires them to demonstrate audited compliance with DPAS regulations when engaging in defense-related contracts.

For What Industries and Companies Is DPAS Relevant?

The Defense Priorities and Allocations System (DPAS) is relevant for industries and companies that engage in defense-related activities or supply goods and services to support national defense needs. DPAS primarily applies to companies operating within the United States and engaged in defense-related activities that fall under the jurisdiction of US government agencies. The specific industries and companies impacted by DPAS may vary based on national defense priorities. The following industries and companies typically fall within the scope of DPAS:

  1. Defense Contractors: Companies directly involved in defense-related contracts and projects, including manufacturers of military equipment, weapons systems, and defense technologies.
  2. Aerospace Industry: Companies engaged in the production and supply of aerospace systems, aircraft, and related components for defense purposes.
  3. Electronics and Communications: Companies involved in the development, manufacturing, and supply of electronics, communication systems, and equipment used for defense applications.
  4. Shipbuilding and Maritime: Companies engaged in shipbuilding, maritime construction, and the supply of naval vessels and equipment.
  5. Advanced Manufacturing: Companies involved in advanced manufacturing processes for defense-related products, such as: precision machining, fabrication, and additive manufacturing.
  6. Engineering and Technical Services: Companies providing engineering, technical, and consulting services in support of defense projects and programs.
  7. Research and Development: Companies engaged in defense-related research and development activities, including technology innovation, prototyping, and testing.
  8. Logistics and Supply Chain: Companies involved in defense-related logistics and supply chain management, including: transportation, warehousing, and distribution of military equipment and supplies.
  9. Energy and Utilities: Companies involved in the energy and utilities sector, supplying resources critical to defense operations, such as electricity, fuel, and natural resources.

What Are the DPAS Audit Criteria?

The audit requirements for DPAS will vary depending on the contracting agency and the nature of the defense-related work to be performed. Companies seeking DPAS participation are generally required to demonstrate:

  1. Compliance with Defense Production Act (DPA) regulations. This is a legal framework for the DPAS. This is the first and most critical stage in DPAS compliance.
  2. Capability and capacity assessment is performed to ensure suppliers can fulfill defense contracts. This may involve the review of the company's infrastructure, resources, production facilities, and QMS certifications.
  3. Supply chain management of high caliber must be demonstrated, including traceability and tracking of materials, management of critical components, and continuity of supply.
  4. Security and IT controls to assure that sensitive defense-related information and systems will be properly protected. This includes appropriate physical security measures, cybersecurity controls, and adherence to specific and regulated data protection methodologies.
  5. Documentation and recordkeeping must be accurate and up to date in relation to: priority-rated contracts, orders, shipments, etc. for the company’s defense-related activities.
  6. Reporting and compliance are key because defense contracts contain stringent reporting obligations such as inventory levels, production capabilities, and compliance with priority ratings and allocations.

The DPAS Audit and Accreditation Process

Compliance with DPAS is achieved through contractual processes between the government and the company. Government agencies placing and supervising defense contracts may conduct audits or reviews to verify compliance with DPAS requirements.

During these audits or reviews, the government may assess the company's compliance with DPAS regulations, including priority ratings, allocations, reporting obligations, and other contractual provisions related to defense priorities and resource allocations. The specific details of the audit process may vary depending on the government agency and the terms of the contract.

What Are DX and DO Ratings?

DX rating, also known as "Highest National Defense Use," is the highest priority under DPAS. It applies to contracts or orders that are deemed critical for national defense or emergency (FEMA) preparedness. The DO rating, also known as "Critical Defense Use," is the second priority rating under DPAS. It is assigned to contracts or orders that are essential for defense purposes but may not have the urgency for a DX rating. These priority ratings help to allocate resources efficiently during national defense emergencies or crises. They enable the government to ensure that critical supplies, materials, and services are available to meet national defense needs in a prioritized manner.

DX and DO ratings are determined by applicable government agencies. The criteria for assigning ratings vary based on the nature of the requirements and the urgency of the situation.

What Are the Benefits of a DPAS Certification?

While there is no DPAS certification process, companies that participate in defense-related contracts and programs and are compliant with DPAS regulations can benefit in several ways. These benefits are listed below:

  1. Priority treatment is given to companies known to be compliant with DPAS regulations. They are eligible for prioritized access to government RFP/RFQ processes, contracts, orders, and resource allocation. This priority status can provide a competitive advantage and increased opportunities to secure defense-related business.
  2. Access to defense contracts results directly from compliance and participation. It ensures that a company meets the necessary requirements and standards set by the US government, making such a company a preferred choice for defense procurement.
  3. Government collaboration results from compliance with DPAS regulations, allowing close relationships and collaborations with government agencies. This collaboration can lead to increased networking opportunities and knowledge sharing and results in significantly increased potential for future partnerships.
  4. Business continuity is assured during national defense emergencies or crises. DPAS compliance allows companies to sustain operations and continue providing essential goods and services to support national defense needs—for example during COVID-related disruptions. This can contribute to the company's stability and business continuity at the most difficult moments.
  5. Reputation and credibility are enhanced by DPAS compliance. It demonstrates the company's commitment to national defense priorities, compliance with regulations, and ability to meet the specific needs and requirements of defense projects.

When Are DPAS Certifications Required?

While DPAS certifications do not exist, compliance with DPAS regulations is required in certain situations:

  1. Contracts that contain DPAS clauses require that the contractor comply with DPAS regulations. These clauses typically outline the priority rating, delivery requirements, and other provisions related to resource allocation.
  2. Defense Production Act (DPA) Title I Projects often requires DPAS compliance. This can involve the prioritization and allocation of resources for critical defense-related contracts or programs.
  3. Government directives made in response to national defense emergencies or crises invoke DPAS to ensure the availability of essential goods, services, and resources needed for national defense purposes. Compliance with DPAS regulations becomes mandatory in such cases.

Requirements for DPAS compliance can vary depending on the circumstances, contracts, and directives involved. Companies engaged in defense contracts must review the contract terms and any applicable DPAS clauses to understand their obligations and ensure compliance.

What Accrediting Body Issues DPAS Certifications?

Under DPAS, the US government agencies responsible for issuing contracts and managing defense programs are responsible for enforcing DPAS regulations and ensuring compliance. These agencies include the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and other federal agencies involved in defense procurement.

Compliance with DPAS regulations is typically assessed through audits conducted by government agencies or authorized representatives. These audits aim to verify that companies engaged in defense contracts are adhering to the priority ratings, resource allocations, reporting obligations, and other provisions outlined in the DPAS regulations.

While there are no formal DPAS certifications issued by an accrediting body, companies may be required to provide evidence of their compliance with DPAS regulations when bidding for defense contracts or participating in defense-related programs. This evidence can include documentation, reports, and records that demonstrate the company's adherence to DPAS requirements—typically by audit.

It's important for companies engaged in defense-related contracts to stay informed about DPAS regulations, understand their obligations, and maintain compliance. This ensures eligibility for priority treatment and access to defense resources during national defense emergencies or crises.

Similar Certifications and Accreditations to DPAS

There are other certifications and accreditations related to defense activities and government contracts. These certifications and accreditations focus on different aspects of compliance, security, and quality management within the defense industry. They include:

  1. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR): A set of regulations implemented by the US Department of State to control the export and import of defense articles and services. Compliance with ITAR certification requires companies to obtain specific licenses.
  2. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-171: Provides guidelines for safeguarding controlled unclassified information (CUI) in non-federal information systems and organizations. It outlines security controls that defense contractors and subcontractors must implement to protect sensitive information.
  3. Controlled Goods Program (CGP): A Canadian government policy that regulates the examination, possession, and transfer of Controlled goods. This includes defense articles and technical data. Companies involved in the defense industry in Canada may need to obtain CGP registration to handle such materials.
  4. Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA): Performs audits and provides audit-related services for defense contracts. Compliance with DCAA requirements ensures that a company's accounting systems, internal controls, and incurred costs are in line with government contract regulations.
  5. CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification): A framework implemented by the US Department of Defense (DoD) to assess and enhance the cybersecurity practices of companies participating in defense contracts. It requires third-party certification of a company's cybersecurity practices based on specific levels of maturity.

Other Certifications That Relate to DPAS

In addition to DPAS, there are other certifications and standards that complement DPAS requirements in various ways:

  1. ISO 45001: The occupational health and safety management standard, worldwide. It allows businesses to manage risk and workplace safety, to protect the health and well-being of staff.
  2. ISO 27001: The international standard for information security management systems. While not specific to the defense sector, ISO 27001 certification is applicable to organizations handling sensitive information and protecting the confidentiality and integrity of such data, including defense-related information.

These certifications, along with DPAS, help organizations in the defense industries meet specific requirements, ensure safety, maintain quality standards, and demonstrate compliance with industry regulations.

Summary

This article presented the DPAS certification, explained it, and discussed it in full detail. To learn more about certifications, contact a Xometry representative.

Xometry provides a wide range of manufacturing capabilities and other value-added services for all of your prototyping and production needs. Visit our website to learn more or to request a free, no-obligation quote.

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Xomety X
Team Xometry
This article was written by various Xometry contributors. Xometry is a leading resource on manufacturing with CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, 3D printing, injection molding, urethane casting, and more.