Charles S. Clark | February 1, 2019 | 0 Comments

Trump Expands ‘Buy American’ Requirements to Agency Procurements

President Trump meets with American manufactures and signs an executive order to strengthen purchases of American products. President Trump meets with American manufactures and signs an executive order to strengthen purchases of American products. White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

President Trump on Thursday added details to his earlier “Buy American” push with a new executive order instructing 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.”

The directive to agency heads builds on an April 2017 “Buy American and Hire American” executive order issued at a time when the Trump administration was expected to press for a major boost in infrastructure construction, which has yet to materialize.

“It is the policy of the executive branch to maximize, consistent with law, the use of goods, products, and materials produced in the United States, in federal procurements and through the terms and conditions of federal financial assistance awards,” the order says, changing the previous term “federal grants” to “federal financial assistance.”

Within 90 days, the head of each agency administering a covered program shall “encourage,” consistent with the law, recipients of federal financial assistance to use, “to the greatest extent practicable, iron and aluminum as well as steel, cement, and other manufactured products produced in the United States in every contract, subcontract, purchase order, or sub‑award that is chargeable against such federal financial assistance award.”

Within 120 days, each agency head is to identify any “tools, techniques or conditions that have been used” and report those, along with a planned strategy, to the president and the U.S. Trade Representative.

Covered programs include those involving “alteration, construction, conversion, demolition, extension, improvement, maintenance, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or repair of an infrastructure project in the United States,” the order said.

Notably, the order’s definition of infrastructure, besides the usual highways, roads, bridges, airports, storm sewers and pipelines, includes “cybersecurity; and any other sector designated through a notice published in the Federal Register by the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council.”

Alan Chvotkin, counsel and executive vice president of the 400-member Professional Services Council, called the addition of cyber projects “a very welcome development.” In an interview with Government Executive, he said his contractor members will be watching “how agencies begin to interpret the requirements and identify specific plans and programs to implement the order.”

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