Enforcing Made in USA Standards

I have good news for our President. He voiced yesterday concerns about cost overruns on defense items. Well, the government is also saving money in their spending by their implicit “hands off” approach to enforcing Made in the USA standards.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of reading a government solicitation, they are usually a minimum of 25-30 pages long. Primarily because the document will reference a whole laundry list of applicable rules (or FARS as they call them). These FARS would cure anyone’s insomnia and are probably only read by some low-level attornies who are forced to by their bosses. Long and short, in many cases, they state whatever you’re going to provide to us, has to be made in the USA. That’s not true for all government purchases (e.g GSA), but most of the ones I work on.

I’ve participated in many, many bids over the years. Because it is a public process, we are able to see the winning bid amount on almost every contract award. I can not tell you how frequently I am stunned by the price and they don’t even raise an eyebrow from the contracting officer.  Over an over, contracts are awarded to unknown entities whose price is 20% or more less than the next closest price. In the business world, these quotes are classified as outliers. Most seasoned purchasing agents would conduct some research in such case. There’s usually a reason why they’re so much less. But that doesn’t happen in most government procurement offices.  

Do they really believe they are getting Made in USA product? Of course not. “It’s not our job to verify the source of the product, we only ask the vendor to confirm that they are meeting the requirements of the contract.”

Are you kidding me? That can’t possibly be the standard, but I’m sorry to say, this is the case in many, many situations.

Something needs to change. Our government either needs to stand up and say we really don’t want Made in USA, but we really want the lowest price. Or they need to put some teeth into auditing the claims of these suppliers who know the game and are bastardizing the system. It takes 5 minutes on Google to determine if a company has a factory, a workforce, or any experience providing such an item. This is a small playlot that we contract sewers play in these days. Why come I haven’t heard of these entities that keep winning these bids with prices that flat out aren’t possible using USA labor and materiasls. 

So Mr. President, I promise you that you are saving quite a bit of money on your purchases. Made in China worked for Walmart, and it’s apparently working for the government too. It’s time for someone to stand up and support those of us who play by the rules, employ hard-working people in America, pay our taxes, licenses, fees, and the rest that is piled on. Or change the rules and let everyone play the same game. I can import too. This wink-wink scenario is growing old and costing Americans jobs.

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