Liquid Helium Purchasing Program FAQ

When will the program expand?
Interested users can sign up to be considered for program expansion until July 21, 2017. APS will host an informational call with DLA during late July/early August 2017, providing an opportunity for interested users to ask questions directly to DLA. Selected users will be asked to commit to the program by mid-October 2017 and will be able to order liquid helium beginning June 1, 2018.

Why expand the program?
LHeP2 was pilot tested with a small number of research groups with diverse helium needs located at seven universities across the U.S. The program participants achieved more reliable liquid helium delivery and an average savings of 15 percent. Given the positive results of the pilot study, APS, ACS and DLA are eager to expand program participation and offer its benefits to more APS and ACS members.

What is the cost per liter when purchasing liquid helium through DLA?
The cost will vary by destination due to variations in the cost of transportation in different localities and distance between fill points and the customer. However, by aggregating requirements across several customers, DLA is able to encourage competition and take advantage of economies of scale. Contractors generally do not want to take the chance of losing a large government contract due to poor performance. Additionally, DLA Energy enters into firm fixed price contracts with its suppliers, so outside of a force majeure, surcharges are also not allowed during a contract term. Bottom line, this results in a fair price for each location, and increases reliability of delivery.

Purchase price includes all costs associated with delivery of liquid helium in dewars to the final destination. This includes container rental and transportation fees.

Can you describe the process that occurs between group selection and product delivery?
Briefly, the first one to three months will be used to gather users' liquid helium requirements, finalize the Purchase Request and Statement of Objectives, and begin preparing the Sales Contract. Months three to six will be used to finalize the Sales Contract, prepare the solicitation, and award a contract.

DLA Energy will start by sending a requirements request/sales application to each site to complete and return to DLA Energy. This document is basically a questionnaire that will help DLA identify all the pertinent information needed to put vendor contract(s) in place to support each site and to help DLA prepare a sales contract between DLA and the user.

APS Policy Analyst Mark Elsesser ( will serve as the liaison between academic users and DLA. The customer's requirements are formalized in a Purchase Request (PR) and a Statement of Objectives (SOO). DLA will prepare a solicitation based on the PR and SOO and publish a request for proposals (RFP) and send it to potential suppliers. A contract will be awarded to the best value offeror. After award of the vendor contract, the customer(s) will be notified who the successful offeror is and the process on how to order helium through DLA. It usually takes 110 - 140 days from release of solicitation to award of contract. Product deliveries typically commence 2-4 weeks after contract award.

Concurrent with the gathering of requirements and preparing the solicitation, DLA will contact each customer to enter into a sales contract. In addition to laying out the terms and conditions on working with DLA, the Sales Contract will identify the regulatory authority to allow DLA to sell commodities and services to other than federal agencies. For example, DLA has regulatory authority to support universities that have a current federal grant or a contract with a government entity. Once the sales contract is signed by each party, a Department of Defense Address Activity Code (DODAAC) is assigned to identify the customer for ordering, shipping and billing purposes. Sales contract processing time varies depending on the situation and complexity and could take 2-3 months.

What should interested users do now?
Interested user should begin by contacting Mark Elsesser ( in the APS Office of Public Affairs. You will be asked to complete a brief survey regarding your current liquid helium needs and contract. During the fall, the APS Office of Public Affairs will host an informational conference call with DLA, allowing interested users to learn more about the program and providing an opportunity to have their questions answered directly by DLA. Please note that contacting Mark Elsesser to indicate your interest is in no way a commitment to join the program.