The Buy American Act

Published: Apr 5, 1978. Publicly Released: Apr 5, 1978.

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Over the years, criticism has been directed at the United States for its restrictive Government purchasing policies. It is inaccurate to conclude, however, that the United States is more restrictive than Great Britain, France, Germany, and Japan because of present buy-national legislation. These governments and nationalized industries also exclude most foreign competition when similar items are available domestically. The Buy American Act requires Federal agencies to procure domestic materials and products. Two conditions must be present for the Buy American Act to apply: (1) the procurement must be intended for public use within the United States; and (2) the items to be procured or the materials from which they are manufactured must be present in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available commercial quantities of a satisfactory quality. The provisions of the act may be waived if the head of the procuring agency determines the act to be inconsistent with the public interest or the cost of acquiring the domestic product is unreasonable. Contracts awarded by State and local authorities under Federal grant programs are not covered by the act unless authorizing statutes explicitly provide for application of the act. Problems in administering the act involve definitions of "substantially all" of the components and definitions of "manufactured in the United States."

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    Department of State
    GAO-19-420SP: Published: Apr 5, 2019. Publicly Released: Apr 12, 2019.

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