Biden Administration Announces New Buy American Guidance

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Jun 11 2021 |
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Federal agencies are directed to review waivers to Buy American, with the ultimate goal of reducing the amount of foreign-made goods purchased by the federal government and strengthening domestic production.

One of the very first things President Biden did after he took office was sign an executive order to review and strengthen Buy American preferences. On Friday, the Biden administration took a step forward in this effort, issuing official guidance to federal agencies to reduce waivers that allow taxpayer dollars to be used to buy foreign-made goods.

The guidance applies to over 100 federal agencies, and requires each to designate a senior official who will be tasked with coordinating with the Made in America Office to find ways to increase its use of American manufacturing. Meanwhile, agencies also will have to review waivers to Buy American, with the ultimate goal of reducing the number of waivers to help increase the amount of American-made products purchased by the government.

Federal agencies are currently allowed to use Buy American waivers when domestically made goods aren’t available or are cost prohibitive. However, studies have found that these waivers and other Buy American loopholes are used far too often, resulting in tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer money spent on foreign-made products.

“Increasing consistency and public transparency of these waivers will build confidence that Made in America laws are operating as intended while strengthening U.S. manufacturing capabilities, supporting good jobs and ensuring the future will be Made in America,” said Celeste Drake, Director of Made in America.

The guidance issued Friday is a positive step forward in reigning in some of the unfair waivers and exemptions issued for Buy American, AAM President Scott Paul said:

“…Waivers in particular have too often undermined American workers and industries. 

“It’s essential to close loopholes, reduce waivers, broaden coverage to more federal spending and more manufactured products, and strengthen origin standards for determining whether a product is produced in the United States. The law should mean what it says: an American product should be truly Made in America.”

The Made in America Office also is moving ahead with plans to create a public database to display proposed waivers to Buy American. The website to increase transparency in the federal procurement process, allowing domestic manufacturers who may not know about federal contracting opportunities to find them more easily. That website is expected to come online by “early fiscal 2022.”