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How Manufacturers Can Work with the Government to Provide PPE

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Hospitals, businesses, schools and individuals will continue to need protective gear—but how much and for how long? The NAM has been working with the federal government to help manufacturers meet this urgent need, acting as a go-between to get millions of masks, gloves and more where they have to go. The NAM and The Manufacturing Institute’s Center for Manufacturing Research have an estimate of how many disposable face coverings America’s workforce needs every month.

As part of a recent Department of Defense seminar, Herb Grant, the director of the NAM’s Creators Respond effort, outlined how manufacturers can get involved. Here is a brief recap of the event.

How much? Here’s what we know:

  • As of July 9, the DoD had already procured nearly 3 million gowns, nearly 140 million medical gloves, nearly 18 million surgical masks and more than 5 million N95 respirators (according to the DoD’s Joint Acquisition Task Force).
  • The NAM has estimated the demand for facial coverings approaches 1.7 billion pieces per month—and that’s just for industries that don’t typically use PPE. Meeting that demand will require manufacturers to add capacity by investing in new or retooling existing production lines.

The DoD says that information helped clarify that the total demand is not fully understood, but it is far greater than previously thought.

How long? According to Grant, the deputy director of the White House Supply Chain Task Force expects the demand for PPE to continue beyond next year, and perhaps even through 2023.

How can manufacturers get involved? There are three major ways in which manufacturers can help, said Grant.

  1. Increase your capacity to produce PPE: Manufacturers should evaluate whether they can shift capacity or invest in new capacity—which may involve talking to Creators Respond about how the government can support those investments.
  2. Sell PPE to the government: Manufacturers can find out how their production lines up with the government’s needs and consider participating in various federal programs.
  3. Sell PPE to the industry: As the 1.7 billion per month demand estimate shows, industries across the country need the PPE that manufacturers are producing—and will keep needing more.

How to sell to the government: There are three things manufacturers need to do before selling products to the government, Grant advises.

  1. Get a DUNS number: A Data Universal Numbering System number is a unique ID that is required to register with the federal government for contracts or grants (you can obtain one here).
  2. Register with SAM: The System for Award Management consolidates the capabilities of existing federal procurement systems—and you can register at www.sam.gov.
  3. Check for contracting opportunities: The webinar covered a range of sites that offer contracting opportunities, including:
    1. Beta.sam.gov; 
    2. USAspending.gov; and 
    3. Dibbs.bsm.dia.mil. 

The last word: “The bottom line is the manufacturing industry, which has been on the front lines, will continue to lead our country through recovery and renewal,” said Grant.

Check out a full recording of the event here.

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