While American politics continue to prove more polarized than ever for manufacturers and the supply chain, including innovators developing improved ways to build better and more efficiently, the advent of the related Jobs Act as part of the Infrastructure Bill passed last month is a welcome breath of fresh air.
U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) announced that their bipartisan BuyAmerican.gov Act worked together to present the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act which itself is based on digital innovation and will establish a centralized online hub to increase transparency and ensure federal agencies prioritize the purchase of American-made goods in compliance with existing law.
Under current law, federal agencies may use domestic content waivers to Buy American laws to purchase goods or services from foreign companies only in certain circumstances: for example, when an American-made good is unavailable or will significantly increase the cost of a product.
That said, there is currently no easily accessible government-wide system tracking the use and abuse of these waivers by federal agencies.
“The bipartisan legislation will direct the General Services Administration to establish a central, publicly available website, at the link currently known as BuyAmerican.gov, to collect and display information about each requested waiver to Buy American laws,” a press release issued by the agency said. “This website will allow manufacturers and other interested parties to identify contract opportunities and hold federal agencies accountable for abusing Buy American waivers. The measure also will give manufacturers the chance to challenge pending waivers sought by federal agencies.”
“Taxpayer dollars should support American products and workers. Our bipartisan bill will help create thousands of good-paying jobs and make a big difference for Connecticut manufacturers. I’m glad to see it signed into law as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” said Murphy.
“We must do everything we can to protect and maximize American jobs created by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, and that starts by ensuring that our tax dollars aren’t used to create jobs overseas,” said Portman. “By improving transparency, the BuyAmerican.gov Act will encourage federal agencies to support American workers and American jobs by faithfully complying with Buy American laws. This is bipartisan legislation is needed now to help support American jobs, and I’m glad that it will now be [the] law of the land as a part of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act.”
“We streamline procurement and bring transparency to the process,” said Graham. “These important changes will bring a much-needed system of checks-and-balances to the current waiver process. The pandemic has been a painful wake-up call that we are too reliant on other nations for important manufactured goods. I look forward to working with the Biden Administration and my colleagues in the Senate to make sure manufacturers in South Carolina and across the United States are prioritized when it comes to the bidding and awarding of contracts.”
“We cannot allow foreign companies to continue to undercut our domestic industries. With the reforms in this bill, more Ohio and other U.S. companies will have the chance to supply federal contracts and federal infrastructure projects,” said Brown. “It’s simple: American tax dollars should go toward American-made products that support American jobs. Period.”
“American workers and manufacturers are the best in the world,” said Stabenow. “This bill will help make sure they are first in line when it comes to government contracts and spending. It’s common sense that American tax dollars should be used to create American jobs by purchasing American-made products, not products made overseas.”
This heightened commitment to supporting building and buying American is important for the private sector to pay attention to, as it provides further incentives for producers in the U.S. to innovate to stay competitive, knowing they have a ready market and revenues that may have seemed out of reach in the past.
The beta for the system is now live; you can visit https://sam.gov/content/home to register and learn more.
This legislation is also part of a major shift in policy when it comes to procurement and transparency. In April 2022, the federal government will transition away from the use of the DUNS Number and toward a new Unique Entity ID as the primary means of entity identification for federal awards government-wide.
The government has used the DUNS Number for many years.
The IAE systems (SAM.gov, FPDS, eSRS, FSRS, FAPIIS, and CPARS) are already transitioning to the new SAM.gov-generated entity identifier. Other agencies have their own plans to meet the government-wide transition date to use the Unique Entity ID (SAM).
There is a help desk in place to support businesses that have questions regarding this important transition.
The Data Universal Numbering System, abbreviated as DUNS or D-U-N-S, is a proprietary system developed and managed by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) that assigns a unique numeric identifier, referred to as a “DUNS number,” to a single business entity. It was introduced in 1963 to support D&B’s credit reporting practice.
The Federal Service Desk, available at fsd.gov, is the help desk for the IAE systems. FSD.gov now has a new button on the home page that opens a list of helpful resources for the UEI transition. If you’re a federal employee who uses SAM.gov, a contractor or subcontractor, someone who receives grants, or someone who searches for entities on SAM.gov, this link is for you.