WASHINGTON – In light of evidence that U.S. federal agencies have granted an excessive number of waivers to Buy American laws in the last few years, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has cosponsored the BuyAmerican.gov Act. The bipartisan legislation establishes a centralized online hub to increase transparency and ensure federal agencies prioritize the purchase of American-made goods in compliance with existing laws.
In the last five years, U.S federal agencies have spent $47.7 billion on goods manufactured by foreign firms. The Department of Defense (DoD), the largest purchaser of manufactured goods in the world, has spent almost $200 billion on manufactured goods made by foreign companies since 2007. At the same time, the United States has been shedding manufacturing jobs that could have been kept in the U.S.
In addition to creating the BuyAmerican.gov website, the bipartisan bill codifies President Trump’s Buy American Executive Order and requires agencies to report on the implementation of, and compliance with, Buy American laws.
“We streamline procurement and bring transparency to the process,” said Graham. “These important changes will bring a much-need system of checks-and-balances to the current waiver process. I am excited to work with President Trump and my colleagues in the Senate to make sure manufacturers in South Carolina and across the United States are prioritized when it comes to the bidding and awarding of contracts.”
Graham noted that under current law, federal agencies may use domestic content waivers to Buy American laws to purchase goods or services from foreign companies only in certain circumstances: for example, when an American-made good is unavailable or will significantly increase the cost of a product. However, federal agencies overuse this waiver authority. There is currently no government-wide system tracking the use and abuse of these waivers by federal agencies.
The new BuyAmerican.gov Act would direct the General Services Administration to establish a central, publicly-available website, called BuyAmerican.gov, to collect and display information about each requested waiver to Buy American laws. This new website will allow manufacturers and other interested parties to identify contract opportunities and hold federal agencies accountable for abusing Buy American waivers.
The bill is cosponsored by Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).