Buy American and Related Acts

President Trump continues to push forward with his “Buy American, Hire American” initiative with the issuance of his third Executive Order No. 13881 (the “Order”) on July 15, 2019, entitled “Maximizing Use of American-Made Goods, Products, and Materials.” This Order attempts to strengthen the standards that federal agencies must follow under the Buy American Act (“BAA”) by raising the threshold for domestic purchasing requirements.
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Congress enacted the Buy American Act (“BAA”) during the Great Depression, in order to protect American industry from foreign competition on federal procurement contracts. While the BAA is simplistic in its policy goal of promoting domestic purchasing, government contractors and subcontractors are often faced with complex and confusing rules for compliance.
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Since taking office in 2017, President Trump has made no secret of his “Buy American, Hire American” initiative. The President recently took another step to promote American industry by signing an Executive Order on January 31, 2019, (the “Order”) which instructs all agencies to “maximize the use of iron and aluminum as well as steel, cement, and other manufactured products produced in the United States in contracts, sub-contracts, purchase orders, or sub-awards.”

This recent Order comes on the heels of Executive Order No. 13788, signed on April 28, 2017, which required federal agencies to “scrupulously monitor, enforce, and comply with Buy American laws, to the extent they apply, and minimize the use of waivers, consistent with applicable law.” Executive Order 13788 also mandated federal agency action on Buy American laws at specified dates, as well as subsequent reporting on implementation of Buy American laws. In short, agencies were instructed to follow the law and report back.
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