Murphy requests update from Secretary Mattis on re-training of personnel

WASHINGTON – After making repeated requests that U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) take action to improve Buy American compliance and prioritize the purchase of American-made goods, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) applauded DoD for releasing new Buy American training modules and for urging DoD personnel to diligently adhere to our Buy American laws. Citing recent fraudulent activity – brought to DoD's attention by Murphy – and longstanding failure by contracting personnel to comply with the laws, DoD announced that new Berry Amendment training is now available to its employees, and that new Buy American Act training will be available starting next month. Murphy also called on DoD Secretary James Mattis to provide an update on the re-training of personnel. 

In response to Murphy’s most recent letter highlighting the need for reforms within DoD, the agency acknowledged the importance of training their personnel in Buy American Act and Berry Amendment laws.

“Every single time DoD awards a contract that violates the law and allows taxpayer money to flow to a company abroad, that means fewer jobs here at home in the United States. There’s absolutely no excuse for DoD personnel to ignore or be ignorant of Buy American laws,” said Murphy. “I’m glad DoD is finally taking steps to re-train their staff, and I expect Secretary Mattis to send me an update on the progress they’ve made.” 

James MacStravic, Performing the Duties of Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logisitics, wrote  in response to Murphy’s letter, “I share your concerns. My staff has been working with the Defense Acquisition University to update the content and delivery of the training curriculum for both the Buy American Act and the Berry Amendment. The Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy issued guidance reminding the Department’s acquisition community of the importance of complying with domestic procurement laws and instructing the contracting workforce to complete training CLC 027- Buy American Act and CLC 125 – Berry Amendment. The Department will continue to take the necessary actions to enforce compliance with domestic procurement laws. I thank you for your support of the Department and out Service members.” 

Murphy has led a consistent push in Congress to strengthen and improve compliance with Buy American laws and to protect Connecticut’s defense manufacturers. According to a distressing 2016 report by DoD’s Inspector General, one-third of U.S. Air Force contracts reviewed violated either the Buy American Act or the Berry Amendment. Air Force personnel did not comply with the Buy American Act for 12 out of 33 contracts reviewed, and Air Force personnel did not comply with the Berry Amendment for six out of 21 contracts reviewed. The previous year, DoD Inspector General released a similar report revealing that 40% of U.S. Navy contracts reviewed also violated either the Buy American Act or the Berry Amendment.

Earlier this year, President Trump acted on Murphy’s request to take executive action to close loopholes in Buy American laws. Murphy also recently requested that the U.S. Government Accountability Office investigate U.S. government compliance with laws and regulations – such as the Buy American Act and the Berry Amendment – that require U.S. agencies to prioritize the purchase of American-made goods. Murphy is the author of the 21st Century Buy American Act and American Jobs Matter Act to protect and grow American manufacturing jobs.