WASHINGTON – Today, as a part of his continuing efforts to sound the alarm about the staggering amount of Buy American Act waivers used by the federal government, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) released a report on the U.S. Department of Defense’s overwhelming overuse of these waivers. Buy American Act waivers are intended to allow federal agencies to purchase goods or services from foreign companies, but only in extraordinary circumstances: for example, when an American-made good is unavailable or will increase the cost of a product to prohibitively high levels. However, federal agencies, like the Department of Defense, currently overuse this waiver authority without considering the long and short term effects on U.S. employment.
Since 2007, the Department of Defense has misused Buy American Act waivers and spent over $163 billion on goods manufactured by foreign companies instead of investing in American manufacturers and job creation. While the number of Buy American Act waivers has decreased in recent years, thanks in large part to Murphy’s successful efforts to raise awareness about this overuse of funds, the number is still far too high to the detriment of countless American manufacturers and companies. In 2013, the Department of Defense used 28,887 waivers and spent $19.7 billion on goods manufactured by foreign companies.
“This is a simple concept: the United States government should give preference to American manufacturers when it purchases goods with taxpayer dollars. But right now that’s not happening,” said Murphy. “Instead of investing billions of dollars in our manufacturing economy, we’re shipping money and jobs overseas. Too many talented, hardworking manufacturers in Connecticut are out of work because the federal government isn’t doing enough to prioritize American jobs when making purchases. The Department of Defense needs to step it up and put American workers first whenever possible.”
In order to protect and grow manufacturing jobs in Connecticut, Murphy introduced two pieces of legislation - the 21st Century Buy American Act and the American Jobs Matter Act - that would strengthen existing standards and re-orient our procurement decisions towards American manufacturers. The bills would require the U.S. Government to prioritize the purchase of American-made goods and close the loophole that allows federal agencies to waive Buy American requirements in certain circumstances.
Below are the key findings of Murphy’s report:
• The Buy American Act, which governs federal procurement, has been amended and eroded since its inception in 1933.
• Since FY 2007, the Department of Defense has granted 274,186 waivers of the Buy American Act.
• There are currently eight statutory authorities for which the Department of Defense may grant a Buy American waiver.
• Since 2007, the Department of Defense awarded $163,400,000,000 to foreign manufacturers.