The White House on Friday released a memo instructing agencies to designate a senior official to spearhead efforts to support domestic manufacturing.
President Biden issued an executive order on January 25 to push federal agencies to buy more products made in the United States, an effort that builds on current, related laws. The order directed the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to consider proposing rules to tighten up “Buy American” requirements within 180 days (by July 24), required the General Services Administration to create a public website for proposed waivers and justifications, and established a Made in America Office within the Office of Management and Budget to review any waivers issued that allow the purchase of goods from outside the United States.
“The [Made in America Office] will provide greater oversight of waivers from Made in America Laws, thus increasing consistency and public transparency of such waivers,” wrote Shalanda Young, OMB acting director. “This memorandum provides initial guidance to covered agencies regarding the [office’s] implementation of the executive order.”
By June 30, agencies must designate a senior accountable official to coordinate with the Made in America Office director “to implement a holistic approach” in carrying out the executive order, such as “by working to increase opportunities for U.S. manufacturing and reduce waivers,” said the memo. In April, Biden appointed Celeste Drake, most recently the executive in charge of government affairs at the Directors Guild of America, to lead the office.
The memo also outlines information agencies must include in their proposed waivers for review.
“The [Made in America office] is planning for a phased implementation of its receipt and review of agency waivers,” Young wrote. The initial phase will be for the 24 agencies subject to the Chief Financial Officers Act, which includes the Cabinet agencies and other major ones, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, GSA and NASA. “Further guidance will be developed with input from agencies and published by OMB as the phased-in implementation progresses.”
The reviews of most waivers are anticipated to take between three and seven business days and no more than 15 from the submission date. The Made in America Office “will work with agencies to develop a process and scope for waiver reviews that achieves the objectives of the executive order without unduly delaying agency decisions,” said Young.
By July 24, the designated officials for each agency must report on their use of Made in America laws and outline steps they plan to take to “strengthen and diversify existing domestic supplier bases and create new opportunities where there are gaps.”
Another reporting requirement is that semi-annually, starting January 23, 2022, agencies must provide updated reports on their efforts to boost domestic manufacturing and comply with Made in America laws.
The Made in American Office is going to work with GSA on developing a public website to showcase proposed and approved waivers. It is expected to be operational in early fiscal 2022.
“Increasing consistency and public transparency of these waivers will build confidence that Made in America laws are operating as intended while strengthening U.S. manufacturing capabilities, supporting good jobs and ensuring the future will be Made in America,” said Drake in a press release.
Upon the release of the guidance, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., tweeted, “this is a good day for American manufacturing.” She wrote to Biden shortly after he took office about strengthening Made in America requirements.
Prior to Biden’s inauguration, the Trump administration initiated a similar effort seeking to boost American preferences in government contracting.