We have extended the computational singular perturbation (CSP) method to differential algebraic equation (DAE) systems and demonstrated its application in a heterogeneous-catalysis problem. The extended method obtains the CSP basis vectors for DAEs from a reduced Jacobian matrix that takes the algebraic constraints into account. We use a canonical problem in heterogeneous catalysis, the transient continuous stirred tank reactor (T-CSTR), for illustration. The T-CSTR problem is modelled fundamentally as an ordinary differential equation (ODE) system, but it can be transformed to a DAE system if one approximates typically fast surface processes using algebraic constraints for the surface species. We demonstrate the application of CSP analysis for both ODE and DAE constructions of a T-CSTR problem, illustrating the dynamical response of the system in each case. We also highlight the utility of the analysis in commenting on the quality of any particular DAE approximation built using the quasi-steady state approximation (QSSA), relative to the ODE reference case.