APS-ACS Liquid Helium Purchasing Program
APS will work with DLA during fall 2015 to expand LHeP2 to more academic users who receive federal funding.
Should the number of interested users exceed the program’s available slots, preference will be given to those that are the most vulnerable, i.e., paying the highest price and/or have unreliable delivery.
For more information please contact APS Senior Policy Analyst Mark Elsesser.
Reliable and affordable liquid helium procurement is a principle challenge for researchers across the physical sciences and engineering disciplines. As a service to APS members, the APS Office of Public Affairs (OPA), in partnership with the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), has established the Liquid Helium Purchasing Program (LHeP2) to improve liquid helium purchasing for its members who receive federal funding.
DLA, which is permitted to purchase liquid helium via the in-kind program on behalf of any federal grantee, serves as a “broker” for program enrollees. By combining its customers’ needs, DLA substantially increases its purchasing power when negotiating contacts and price. Additionally, DLA offers a more reliable liquid helium procurement route—DLA has established relationships with multiple liquid helium suppliers and their customers are not tied to a single vendor. Further, as a federal agency DLA has better ability to enforce breach of contract penalties.
Results and Testimonials
OPA pilot tested LHeP2 with a small group of researchers with diverse helium needs at seven institutions across the U.S.: Stanford University, Boise State University, West Texas A&M University, University of Memphis, Amherst College, Worcester Polytechnic University and University of New Hampshire. The program enrollees achieved more reliable delivery and an average savings of 15%.
Additionally, LHeP2 is helping some of APS’s most vulnerable members procure liquid helium at an affordable price. Professor Catherine Clewett (West Texas A&M) recalls having trouble gaining access to liquid helium prior to joining the program:
“We were concerned because we are both a new customer and a small customer. We had never ordered liquid helium and were finding it difficult to begin a relationship with the major helium companies. The program has ensured that we can get the helium when we need it at a stable cost. We also don’t have to worry about being the last customer to have our order fulfilled when helium is in short supply.”
APS leadership recognizes the program’s value to the community. Added Laura H. Greene, a condensed matter physicist and vice president of APS:
“It is remarkable what the OPA has done on behalf of the scientific community.”
In October, OPA will host an informational call with DLA, allowing all interested users to learn more about the program and providing an opportunity to have their questions answered directly by DLA. Program selection will take place in November and selected users will be asked to commit to joining the program by December 4. DLA will use the next several months to negotiate two year sales contracts with vendors for program enrollees. Program enrollees will begin ordering and receiving helium on June 1, 2016.