U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites..

alert - warning

This page has not been translated into Tagalog. Visit the Tagalog page for resources in that language.

Procedures for Placing a Priority-Rated Contract or Order

This page summarizes standards and procedures for placing a priority-rated contract or order ("rated order") in support of a DHS Approved Program.

Who is responsible for directing use of a rated order?

The decision to place a priority rating in a contract or order begins with an Authorized Component Official (ACO). An ACO is a Delegated Senior Official (DSO) or another DHS (or associated agency) employee who has been delegated authority by a DSO to direct use of priority ratings in contracts or orders supporting DHS Approved Programs. For help identifying an appropriate ACO to request a priority-rating decision, contact a Component Federal Priorities and Allocations System (FPAS) Officer.

What programs are eligible for support using rated orders?

The ACO is responsible for determining if a program is eligible to be supported using the DPA priorities authority. The ACO reviews the list of DHS Approved Programs to determine if a program qualifies in one or more of the DHS Approved Program categories. When in doubt whether a program qualifies, the ACO can consult with a Component FPAS Officer for guidance. If the program does not qualify in an existing DHS Approved Program category, the ACO can request a new program determination from the OPPA Associate Administrator. The ACO can request assistance from a Component FPAS Officer in documenting this request. If the program does qualify as a DHS Approved Program, the ACO must also determine which contracts or orders supporting the program are eligible to carry a FPAS priority rating.

What contracts and orders are eligible for a priority rating?

Once it has been determined that the program qualifies as a DHS Approved Program, the ACO is responsible for determining which contracts or orders supporting the program are eligible to carry a FPAS priority rating. There are jurisdictional and other limitations on DHS authority to place rated orders.

Jurisdictional limitations – Currently, DHS is only authorized to place rated orders for industrial resources that fall within Defense Priorities and Allocations System (DPAS) jurisdiction and for food resources that fall within Agriculture Priorities and Allocations System (APAS) jurisdiction. In general, rated orders may not be used for any form of energy, health resources, or any form of civil transportation. Questions regarding whether resources to be procure fall within DPAS or APAS jurisdiction can also be referred to a Component FPAS Officer for answers. The ACO may request special priorities assistance (SPA) to obtain authority to place rated orders for resources not covered under DPAS or APAS.

Other FPAS limitations – There are general limitations on use of rated orders provided in FPAS regulations. Rated orders may not be used to obtain:

  • Delivery on a date earlier than needed;
  • A greater quantity of the item than needed, except to obtain a minimum procurable quantity;
  • Items in advance of the receipt of a rated order, except as specifically authorized by the Resource Department with priorities jurisdiction for the resource to be procured;
  • Any of the following items, unless specific priority rating authority has been obtained from DHS or the Department of Commerce (DOC):
    • Items for plant improvement, expansion or construction, unless they will be physically incorporated into a construction project covered by a rated order; or
    • Production or construction equipment or items to be used for the manufacture of production equipment;
  • Any items related to the development of chemical or biological warfare capabilities or the production of chemical or biological weapons; or
  • Any of the following items, unless authorized, specifically, by DOC: copper raw materials, crushed stone, gravel, sand, scrap, slag, steam heat (central), or waste paper.

DPAS Delegation 4 limitations – There are additional limitations on DHS use of rated orders, specified in DPAS Delegation 4 to DHS:

  • DPAS rated orders may only be used to support the procurement of an item that is commonly available in commercial markets for general consumption, if the item:
    • Requires major modifications when purchased for use by a DHS Approved Program;
    • Is not readily available in sufficient quantity to meet the needs of a DHS Approved Program in a timely manner; or
    • Is being procured to support emergency preparedness, response, or recovery activities conducted pursuant to title VI of the Stafford Act.
  • DPAS rated orders may not be used to support procurement of any items to be used primarily for administrative purposes, such as for personnel or financial management.

How is a Contracting Officer directed to place a rated order?

Once it has been determined that a program qualifies as a DHS Approved Program and that a contract or order is eligible to carry a priority rating, the ACO is responsible for identifying the appropriate program identification symbol (PIS) to be included in the priority rating and for directing the Contracting Officer for the program to include a priority rating in the contract or order.

Program Identification Symbols – The PIS is an administrative tool used to identify and track the type of Approved Program being supported with the rated order and the governing regulation for each rated order. The ACO identifies the PIS for the category of DHS Approved Program to be supported using a rated order. The PISs for DHS Approved Programs under the DPAS regulation are:

  • “N1” – federal programs involving emergency preparedness activities conducted pursuant to title VI of the Stafford Act
  • “N2” – state, local, tribal, and territorial government programs involving emergency preparedness activities conducted pursuant to title VI of the Stafford Act
  • “N3” – intelligence and warning systems to counter terrorism within the United States
  • “N4” – border and transportation security programs to counter terrorism within the United States
  • “N5” – programs to address chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats within the United States
  • “N6” – other programs, including law enforcement, to counter terrorism within the United States
  • “N7” – programs to protect or restore critical infrastructure
  • “N8” – miscellaneous [Note: consult with a DHS Component FPAS Officer prior to using this PIS to confirm that the program to be supported qualifies as a DHS Approved Program.]

The PIS for food resources under APAS is “P1” – food and food resources (civilian).

The appropriate PIS under any other FPAS regulation will be identified to the ACO in the documentation authorizing use of rated orders under that regulation.

Priority ratings – DHS authority to place DPAS rated orders is limited to use of the “DO” priority rating. Therefore, a DPAS rated order placed in support of a DHS Approved Program must include one of the following priority ratings: DO-N1, DO-N2, DO-N3, DO-N4, DO-N5, DO-N6, DO-N7, and DO-N8. While DHS is authorized to place both “DO” and “DX” rated orders for food resources under APAS, there are no plans to use the “DX” priority rating. FEMA is only DHS component permitted to rate orders under APAS. In the unlikely event that a “DX” rating may be needed, contact a Component FPAS Officer for assistance in requesting this authority.

Direction for a Contracting Officer – Having chosen the appropriate PIS for the program, the ACO provides the Contracting Officer with written direction to place a rated order. For example, the ACO could send an email to the Contracting Officer that reads in substance:

“In accordance with the delegation of Defense Priorities and Allocations System (DPAS) Delegation 4 authority to [INSERT ACO TITLE], dated [INSERT DATE OF DELEGATION TO THE ACO], I direct you to include a ‘[INSERT PRIORITY RATING]’ priority rating in the [INSERT INFORMATION IDENTIFYING THE SPECIFIC CONTRACT TO BE RATED]. For technical assistance, if needed, in placing a DPAS priority-rated contract or order, please contact [INSERT THE NAME AND CONTACT INFORMATION FOR THE COMPONENT FPAS OFFICER].”

How does a contract or order become a rated order?

A Contracting Officer must include the following four elements in a contract or order to make it a rated order:

  1. An appropriate priority rating – i.e., the priority rating and PIS specified by the ACO;
  2. Specific delivery quantities and dates;
  3. A statement that the contract or order is a rated order certified for national defense use and that the recipient of the rated order is required to follow the provisions of the applicable FPAS regulation; and
  4. The Contracting Officer’s signature, certifying that the rated order is authorized under the applicable FPAS regulation.

When must a business accept a rated order?

A business must accept a rated order, when: (a) the ordered material or service is normally sold by that business; and (b) the business is capable of meeting the specified delivery requirements. A business may not discriminate against a rated order in any manner, such as by charging higher prices or by imposing different terms and conditions than for comparable unrated orders.

A business must reject a rated order if unable to fulfill the delivery requirements, even with priority treatment. However, the business must inform the customer of the earliest date on which delivery can be made and offer to accept the order on the basis of that date. (See the DPAS regulatory provisions for mandatory acceptance and rejection of a rated order.)

If a business fails to accept a rated order without cause (provided in the governing FPAS regulation for mandatory or optional rejection of the rated order), the ACO or Contracting Officer may request special priorities assistance to remedy the situation and may seek the assistance of a Component FPAS Officer in preparing the SPA request.

What must the recipient of a rated order do to complete the order on time?

The FPAS regulations require several actions by a business to ensure rated orders are fulfilled on time. These include:

Preferential scheduling. A business must schedule operations, including the acquisition of all needed production items, in a timely manner to satisfy the delivery requirements of each rated order. Modifying production or delivery schedules is necessary only when required delivery dates for rated orders cannot be met, otherwise. The FPAS regulations provide guidance on how a business must deal with conflicts among competing rated orders.

Extension of priority ratings to suppliers. A business must use rated orders with suppliers to obtain items needed to fill a rated order. This requirement extends to all businesses in the supply chain for the rated order. However, the use of rated orders with suppliers is subject to the same limitations as apply to the prime contract. For example, a DPAS priority rating may only be extended for items that fall within the jurisdiction of the DPAS regulation.

Exception. DHS is authorized by DPAS Delegation 4 to provide for extension of priority ratings under other FPAS regulations for items that fall within DPAS jurisdiction. For example, if DHS places an APAS rated order for food resources, the order may include language that authorizes the prime contractor to extend the APAS priority rating under DPAS authority for “DPAS” items needed to fulfill the APAS rated order. Such language should read in substance:

"If the contractor must procure industrial resources (subject to the jurisdiction of the Defense Priorities and Allocations System (DPAS) regulation (15 CFR Part 700)) to fulfill this rated order, the contractor is authorized to place DPAS rated orders, using the [INSERT APAS PRIORITY RATING] priority rating, for such industrial resources. The recipient of a DPAS rated order for industrial resources is required to follow all the provisions of the DPAS regulation."

Use of rated orders. A contractor must use rated orders to obtain:

  • Items that will be physically incorporated into other items to fulfill a rated order;
  • Containers or other packaging materials required to make delivery of the finished items against a rated order;
  • Services, other than contracts of employment, needed to fulfill a rated order; and
  • Maintenance, repair and operating supplies needed to fulfill a rated order.

See applicable FPAS regulations for additional information regarding requirements for contractors to ensure on-time performance to fulfill rated orders.