Military Uniform Procurement: Questions and Answers
Military Uniform Procurement:
Questions and Answers
Valerie Bailey Grasso
Specialist in Defense Acquisition Policy
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Military uniforms are procured through the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), an
agency of the Department of Defense (DOD). DLA is DOD’s largest combat support
agency, providing worldwide logistics support for the United States (U.S.) military
services, civilian agencies, and foreign countries. With headquarters in Fort Belvoir,
Virginia, DLA operates three supply centers, one of which is the Defense Supply Center
Philadelphia (DSCP), in Philadelphia, PA. DSCP is responsible for procuring nearly
all of the food, clothing, and medical supplies used by the military; about 90% of the
construction materiel used by troops in the field, as well as repair parts for aircraft,
combat vehicles, and other weapons system platforms. DSCP’s Clothing and Textile
(C&T) Directorate supplies more than 8,000 different items ranging from uniforms to
footwear, and equipment. In FY2007, C&T had over $2 billion in sales of clothing,
textiles, and equipment to military personnel worldwide.
DSCP’s Clothing and Textile Directorate (C&T) supplies more than 8,000 different
items ranging from uniforms and body armor to tents and canteens. Many C&T products,
such as battle-dress uniforms (BDUs), are unique to the military and the Directorate teams
with military service customers and private vendors to design and test them. C&T also
identifies, tests, and approves commercial items for military use, such as sweatshirts,
gloves, and blankets, and supplies special purpose clothing, wet weather clothing,
chemical suits, and field packs.1
How are Military Uniforms Procured?
Military uniforms are procured through competitive contracts. C&T maintains
access to a variety of supplies and uniform-related products. Other more specialized
products such as body armor, BDUs, and footwear are usually procured directly from
contractors. C&T specialists may also procure textiles and materials directly from the
textile industry, and then provide them to contractors. The materials may be used to
manufacture additional uniforms and related products, often achieving higher quality and
substantial savings over purchased, finished generic products.
Under What Controlling Legal Authority Are Military Uniforms
Military uniforms are procured in accordance with the provisions of the Berry
Amendment and the Buy American Act (BAA).2 The Berry Amendment, which dates
from the eve of World War II, was established for a narrowly defined purpose: to ensure
that United States (U.S.) troops wore military uniforms wholly produced in the United
States and to ensure that U.S. troops were fed food products wholly produced in the
United States. There are exceptions to the Berry Amendment that waive the domestic
source restrictions; one such exception allows DOD to purchase specialty metals and
chemical warfare protective clothing from countries where the United States has entered3
into reciprocal procurement memoranda of understanding (MOUs).
The Berry Amendment is now in statute as part of the United States Code, Title 10,
Section 2533a. DOD has adopted a final rule to implement Sections 826 and 827 of the
FY2004 National Defense Authorization Act. The final rule adds new exceptions to the
acquisition of food, speciality metals, and hand or measuring tools when needed to
support contingency operations or when the use of other than competitive procedures is
based on unusual and compelling urgency.4 The DOD Federal Acquisition Regulation
Supplement (DFARS) 225.7002 has been revised to include a more nuanced and detailed
description of items, components, and materials covered under the provisions of the Berry5
2 The Buy American Act (41 U.S.C. 10a through 10d, as amended ) is the principal domestic
preference statute governing most procurement by the federal government. It restricts foreign
access to U.S. government procurement by giving preference to domestically produced,
manufactured, or home-grown products. For further discussion of the Buy American Act, refer
to CRS Report 97-765, The Buy American Act: Requiring Government Procurement to Come
from Domestic Sources, by John Luckey.
3 For further discussion of the Berry Amendment, refer to CRS Report RL31236, The Berry
Amendment: Requiring Defense Procurement to Come from Domestic Sources, by Valerie Bailey
4 U.S. Department of Defense. DFARS; Berry Amendment Changes. DFARS Case 2003-D099.
Published in the Federal Register, Volume 69, No. 180, September 17, 2004.
5 According to the DOD policy on Program Acquisition and International Contracting (PAIC),
“Unless a specific exception in law applies, the products, components, or materials listed below
must be grown, reprocessed, reused, or produced wholly in the United States if they are
purchased with funds made available (not necessarily appropriated) to DOD. These rules apply
to both prime contractors and subcontractors. The items listed are food, clothing, tents,
tarpaulins, covers, natural fibers or yarns, natural fiber products, natural fabrics, synthetic fabrics,
fabric blends, individual equipment (covered in Federal Supply Class 8465) made from or
containing fibers, yarns, fabrics, or materials (including all fibers, yarns, fabrics, or materials
therein), specialty metals (as defined in DFARS 252.225.7014), stainless steel flatware, hand
tools, and measuring tools. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology
The Deputy Secretary of Defense memorandum of May 1, 2001, provides that the
Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics and the secretaries
of the military services have the authority to determine that certain items under the Berry
Amendment are not available domestically in quantities or qualities that meet military
requirements. Such decisions are called domestic nonavailability determinations
(DNADS). This authority may not be re-delegated. Use of DNADs require an analysis
of the alternatives and certification of the process.
How Do Vendors Sell Military Uniforms to the Government?
C&T has established a 24-hour, 7 day a week Customer Contact Center as the point
for all customer inquiries at 1-877-DLA-CALL (1-877-352-2255), or at the customer
website [http://ct.dscp.dla.mil/Index.html]. Prospective bidders should obtain
specifications prior to submitting an offer. According to the DFARS Parts 204, 212, and
252, contractors must be registered in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) prior to
being awarded either a contract, basic ordering agreement, or blanket purchase agreement,
unless the award results from a solicitation issued on or before June 1, 1998.6
Vendors and customers may review current solicitations in FedBizOpps, the
originating source for all federal government procurement opportunities above $25,000.
Customers may reach the FedBizOpps Help Desk at 1-877-472-3779, or access the
website at [http://www.fedbizopps.gov]. Also, DLA has established a new automated
system to provide contractors with the ability to conduct detailed searches for solicitations
and contract awards, at [http://progate.daps.dla.mil].
Are There New Initiatives Affecting the Procurement of Military
The complexity and demand for military uniforms, body armor, and other military
equipment brought on by the mobilization of troops has contributed to certain legislative
Public Law 109-163 (H.R. 1815, the FY2006 Defense Authorization Act) amends
the domestic source requirements relating to clothing materials and components in the
Berry Amendment. Section 833 requires the Secretary of Defense to notify the public of
any contracts awarded which grant exceptions to the Berry Amendment related to clothing
materials or components. Specially, the exceptions are for “materials and components
thereof, other than sensors, electronics, or other items added to, and not normally7
associated with, clothing (and the materials and components thereof)''. The notification
is to be posted, within 7 days, on the federal website maintained by the General Services
Administration (currently [http://www.FedBizOpps.gov]).
and Logistics, Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy, revised January 13, 2005.
[http://www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/ paic/berryamendment.htm] .
6 See [http://farsite.hill.af.mil].
7 P.L. 109-163, Section 833.
H.R. 4200, the DOD FY2005 Authorization Act (P.L. 108-375) amends Section 806
of the DOD FY2003 Defense Authorization Act (10 U.S.C. 2302 note) by broadening the
authority of the Secretary of Defense to develop rapid acquisition procedures to deploy
needed equipment for combat emergencies, and to waive any provision, law, policy,
directive, or regulation that would unnecessarily impede the acquisition process. The bill
grants the Secretary of Defense up to $100 million in acquisition authority, in any fiscal
year, to use any available DOD funds. Any future acquisition initiated under this
provision would transfer to the normal acquisition planning cycle within two years.
The Army has sought to improve the process through which uniforms are acquired
by launching the Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI), which is designed to expedite the
purchase of body armor, helmets, boots, and other clothing, equipment, and weapon
systems. RFI was developed in 2002, as a result of the lessons learned in Operation
Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.8
The U.S. Air Force has announced plans to “wear test” a new utility uniform which
could eventually replace the current BDU, and began testing in January 2005.9 The U.S.
Army has unveiled a new active combat uniform (ACU) which would eventually replace
the BDU, which the Army has used for 30 years. All active duty and reserve Army
personnel will reportedly receive four sets of the new ACU.
8 For further discussion on the RFI, see U.S. Army’s Public Affairs Office News Release,
February 7, 2005, at [http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=6828]; Lisa
Troshinsky, Army Gaining Ground in RFI, Aviation Recap. Aerospace Daily and Defense
Report. Vol. 211, No., 56, September 20, 2004, p. 4. General Richard Cody, U.S. Army Vice
Chief of Staff’s briefing before the Defense Forum Foundation, September 17, 2004; Sgt. Kim
Dooley, Rapid Field Initiative Equips Post Troops for Operation Iraqi Freedom III; Initiative
Gives Soldiers Comfort, Survival Items. The Bayonet. Tradoc News Service, September 17,
9 Sgt. David A. Jablonski, Test Uniforms hit the Streets, Air Force Print News,. February 6, 2004;
Master Sgt. Scott Elliott, Utility Uniform Feedback Survey, PT Gear Coming, Air Force Print
News, June 18, 2004.