MadeInAmerica.gov Website to Shine Light on Federal Purchases of Foreign-Produced Goods
Published: October 13, 2021
Earlier this month, the Made in America Office at OMB launched the website MadeInAmerica.gov to provide interested parties with information on waivers for agencies planning to procure goods not manufactured in the U.S.
In January, President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) to promote the buying of American-made products and services by the federal government, entitled “Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers.” The EO’s intent is to funnel more federal spending to U.S. companies and employees by reigning in waivers and exemptions to Buy American regulations. The EO also created a Made in America Office (MIAO) at OMB to oversee the all-of-government Made in America initiative. Additionally, the EO requested that the FAR Council review existing constraints on the extension of “Made in America Laws to information technology that is a commercial item and develop recommendations for lifting these constraints.”
Total federal prime contract spending, or obligations, for federal FY 2019 totaled $525 billion, only 4.3% of total federal prime contract spending for FY 2019 went to foreign businesses and 5.3% in FY 2020. These numbers do not take into account parts, assemblies, and products supplied to federal contractors from foreign entities and then sold to the federal government by U.S. companies, but it gives us some idea of scale.
Various laws and regulations establish requirements for federal agencies to support American manufacturing through procurement. Exceptions to these laws and regulations are allowable under certain conditions. To ensure that waivers from Made in America laws are applied consistently and in a transparent manner, agencies need to submit proposed waivers and justifications to the Made in America Office for review.
The new MadeInAmerica.gov website allows interested parties to view waivers granted by MIAO. The site shows eleven waivers granted to date. Waivers are for products such as a turboshaft engine, a laboratory information management system, a powered air-purifying respirator, a Fourier Transformation Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy, and cerium carbonate powder. Agencies requesting waivers include DLA, TSA, and OSHA. The site also provides a link to historical waivers that are stored on SAM.gov.
The MadeInAmerica.gov site also answers a number of informative Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), such as how to make a comment about a waiver, how to offer the government a product that is seeking a waiver, and information on proposed changes to the current 55% requirement for American made product content.
The FAR Council published a proposed rule change in the Federal Register in July 2021 stemming from requirements in the January Made in America EO. Proposed rule changes include a phased increase in domestic content requirements, increased price preferences for “critical” goods and materials, and additional reporting requirements to increase transparency. The Federal Register notice also asked for industry to respond regarding the potential impact of a roll-back of the statutory exception for commercial information technology in Buy American regulations. Responses to the proposed rule were due September 28, 2021.
Federal contractors should use the new website for waiver information on products and services that their company may be able to offer the government. Additionally, contractors should continue to limit and ramp down foreign-sourced parts, components, products and services, not only to comply with the Buy American Act and any new regulations stemming from the EO, but also for supply chain security and cybersecurity.