GSA Shelf Life Management Program

Shelf Life is defined by the Department of Defense (DoD) Shelf Life Management Manual (DoD 4140.27-M/May 5, 2003) as:

"The total period of time beginning with the date of manufacture, date of cure (for elastomeric and rubber products only), date of assembly, or date of pack (subsistence only), and terminated by the date by which an item must be used (expiration date) or subjected to inspection, test, restoration, or disposal action; or after inspection/laboratory test/restorative action that an item may remain in the combined wholesale (including manufacture's) and retail storage systems and still be suitable for issue or use by the end user."

Within the federal supply system, appropriate Shelf Life Codes are designated for each National Stock Number (NSN). These codes are contained in DoD Shelf Life Management Manual 4140.27-M [pdf], Appendix E. Shelf Life Codes designate items as either Type I (alpha character, except X) or Type II (numeric character and alpha character X). Type I items expire at expiration date, when material is unfit for use. Type II items can be extended by either visual inspection or laboratory test, as required by the applicable management activity storage standards. All NSNs or National Item Identification Numbers (NIINs) deemed "non-deteriorative", are identified by Shelf Life Code 0 (zero).

The GSA Shelf Life Management Procedures are outlined in Federal Standard 793B, Depot Storage Standards. In addition, GSA fully supports DoD shelf life policies contained in DoD 4140.27-M, Shelf Life Management Manual. Please review these policy documents and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for more information. Send questions to GSA using the contact links shown at the bottom of the page under the section titled “Other Related Hyperlinks.”

Guidance and Direction for Shelf Life Material

The Department of Defense maintains a website with multiple reference documents regarding shelf life topics. If you select on "Policy" in the left column at this site, you will see documents including:

GSA Shelf Life Management Policy

GSA closely coordinates its shelf life program with DoD and others in the federal community, as described in DoD Regulation 4140-R, DoD Supply Chain Material Management Regulation.

FED-STD-793, Depot Storage Standards

FED-STD-793 provides guidance on how the depots determine shelf life extensions for products currently stored in their facility. GSA’s Acquisition Centers establish initial shelf life requirements and inspection criteria, based on manufacturer recommendations and commodity specialist oversight.

Minimum Shelf Life Criteria

In accordance with DoD 4140.27-M, Section 2-12 (A),“Acquisition/procurement documentation shall specify that shelf life items/materiel will have not less than 85 percent (allowing for rounding to whole months) of shelf life remaining at time of receipt by the first government activity." Any direct delivery from a GSA supplier to our customer, not having at least 85 percent shelf life remaining, will normally be considered non-conforming.

General Description of GSA Shelf Life Extension Procedures

  • Within the Warehouse Distribution System, shelf life re-inspection due dates are tracked monthly.
  • When inspecting an item for the first time, only visual inspections are performed, and shelf life can be extended based on this visual inspection.
  • An item may be visually inspected or laboratory tested at the time of second inspection, depending on the value of the inventory involved, the weapons system sensitivity of the item and other factors.
  • If laboratory tests are conducted, this information is provided to Hill Air Force Base, to be included in the DoD Quality Status List (QSL).
  • In accordance with FED-STD-793, items can be extended up to three times. The total of all extensions cannot exceed an amount of time equal to the item’s original shelf life.
  • Extended items must have a shelf life extension notice/label placed on them, indicating the extended expiration date. The notice/label mirrors the DoD 2477 series forms for shelf life extensions.

The following criteria are used in determining the minimum shelf life that must remain on an item for it to be shipped. (Reference: DoD 4140.27-M, Section 5-6).

Minimum Shelf Life for Shipment
Original Shelf Life CONUS Shipments Overseas Surface Shipments Overseas Air Shipments
1 year or more 1/2 original shelf life 1/2 original shelf life 1/2 original shelf life
9 months 4 months 4 months 4 months
6 months 2 months 2 months 2 months
3 months 1 month N/A* 45 days

*Items with a three month shelf life must be shipped overseas only by air transportation.

DoD Material Quality Control Storage Standards (MQCSS) and the DoD Quality Status List (QSL)

DoD’s MQCSS outlines storage standards for deteriorative items. The QSL displays current results of shelf life extension tests, by NSN, Manufacturer, Lot and Batch Number. Users of the DoD Shelf Life website can request Shelf Life Extension System (SLES) account access to view MQCSS and QSL data online.Access is limited to users from a “.mil” or “.gov” host.

Robins Air Force Base - Shelf Life Extension Date (SLED) database

Robins Air Force Base maintains the SLED database at its Science & Engineering Lab. This lab is located at WR-ALC / TIEL, 420 Second Street, Suite 100, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia 31098-1640.

DoD Inventory Control Points

The role of each DoD Inventory Control Point (ICP) is to determine storage standards for deteriorative items that they manage, and to arrange for laboratory shelf life extension tests when their Installation Supply Activities request such tests. Storage standards (including length of shelf life and whether an item requires only a visual inspection or a full laboratory test in order to extend shelf life) are recorded in the on-line Material Quality Control Storage Standards (MQCSS). Each ICP has update rights to this system. The type of test required on each item (visual inspection or laboratory testing) is determined by the managing ICP.

DoD Installation Responsibility

If an installation finds that shelf life extension information is not available in the QSL for one of its items, staff can contact their service ICP for further instructions on possible extensions. Laboratory test requests are only allowed when there has not already been a shelf life test for that NSN, Manufacturer, Lot and Batch, and when the quantities of material in question warrant the expense of laboratory testing. When these tests are accomplished, test results and extension data are entered into the QSL.

Other Related Hyperlinks:

Questions regarding GSA products and shelf life should be directed to GSA's National Customer Service Center at 800-488-3111 or emailed to:

print Share Icon Last Reviewed: 2019-01-03