White House issues new rules on ‘Buy American’ waivers


The Biden administration on Friday issued guidelines to federal agencies aimed at streamlining the implementation of the “Made in America” ​​presidential decree.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent a note to federal agencies and department heads outlining how the administration will seek to reduce waivers and increase transparency so that the federal government less often outsources its manufacturing needs. The advice was obtained exclusively by The Hill prior to its release.

“It forces agencies to examine current Made in America practices and develop plans to improve them. These efforts will work together to promote economic security, national security and well-paying union jobs here at home,” Celeste Drake, director of Made in America Office within the OMB, said in a statement outlining the directions.

The waiver guidelines will apply to more than 100 federal agencies, but will be phased in over the next few months. The waiver review process will begin with 24 key agencies appointed under the CFO, which includes Cabinet agencies and additional departments like NASA and the General Services Administration.

Friday’s memo requires agencies to designate a senior official by June 30 who will coordinate with Drake and the Made in America Office and develop a strategy to increase its use of American manufacturing. The designated official will also submit regular reports to Drake on their use of the Made in America statutes, rules, regulations and ordinances.

The memo also includes guidance for agencies wishing to submit waivers to circumvent the Made in America order in an effort to reduce the need for exemptions.

Government agencies may obtain exemptions from Buy American requirements in certain circumstances, including if the materials they are seeking are not available in the country, if the cost is found to be unreasonable, or if it would violate trade or agreements. with foreign governments.

As part of efforts to increase transparency, the administration will maintain a public database that will display all proposed exemptions for Made in America laws. The site is expected to be operational at the start of fiscal 2022, which begins in October. One of the goals of the website is to increase US business understanding of the federal contracting opportunities available.

“Increasing the consistency and public transparency of these waivers will build confidence that Made in America laws are working as intended while strengthening the manufacturing capabilities of the United States, supporting the right jobs and ensuring that the future will be Made in America, ”Drake said of the guidelines.

Biden signed an executive order in January to increase federal purchases of products made in the United States by tightening “Buy American” requirements. The order also created the Made in America office.

Drake was appointed at the end of April to serve as the office’s first manager. A former trade and globalization policy specialist for the AFL-CIO union, Drake’s post was created with the aim of reducing unnecessary waivers that allowed agencies to purchase products made overseas.

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