The Pentagon is in the process of strengthening the enforcement of existing rules mandating the government buy only American-made goods.
The Department of Defense is supposed to buy supplies, weapons and garments from American-sourced materials, but that doesn’t always happen.
DoD procurement officers work carefully to buy goods and services from American firms, but those firms sometimes rely on imported raw materials and foreign-made products. The F-35, for example, is made with beryllium imported from Kazakhstan, rather than buying the rare metal from the one U.S. provider.
The Pentagon’s Office of the Inspector General “identified numerous contracts” that did not comply with laws mandating the DoD buy only American-made goods, according to a June 20 memo from the deputy director for procurement and acquisition at the DoD.
“This is an area where the president’s hand is very strong and he has a lot of authority to make policy,” Andrew Hunter of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told The Washington Post.
President Donald Trump’s April Buy American executive order makes it policy “to maximize, consistent with law, through terms and conditions of Federal financial assistance awards and Federal procurements, the use of goods, products, and materials produced in the United States.”
While Trump’s order doesn’t change current law, it strengthens the government’s commitment to root out “every single Buy American loophole.”
The first steps to enforce Buy American policies will be to limit the number of exemptions and waivers offered to contractor firms, and update the guidance. Many of the exemptions and waivers come as a result of trade deals with allies, or for less developed nations.
Some fear that reducing waivers and exemptions that allow contractors to buy supplies from other nations will cause other countries to retaliate.
One French defense manufacturer said recently that Europe should adopt a similar policy.
“Mr. Trump said, and he’s right, I work for Americans so I want the Buy American Act,” Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, a French aerospace company, told Defense & Aerospace Report in June. “Why not? So Europe should say ‘I work for Europe so we want also the Buy European Act. We need reciprocity.”
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