By David Gallacher

1. There is no single “Buy American” requirement – there are numerous statutes with differing requirements. Make sure you know which one applies.

2. Whether you are a prime or a subcontractor, certify only to the specific “Buy American” requirements in the RFP; do not make a broader certification than is required.


Continue Reading “Buy American” Compliance Tips

One of the most perplexing questions that has plagued the government contracting community in recent years relates to the country of origin for computer software. Where most government procurements restrict the purchase of products that were not manufactured or substantially transformed in an approved country, the question of where software is “substantially transformed” is one of critical importance – particularly where the government buys more and more software products, and particularly where those software products are distributed via direct download. The Department of U.S. Customs and Border Protection has long resisted issuing any authoritative guidance on the country of origin for computer software, leaving industry to reach its own conclusions, conclusions that hopefully will be adjudged as reasonable in the event of later Government scrutiny or challenge. But Customs has recently issued an advisory opinion that may finally shed some light on this dark and murky topic.
Continue Reading Country of Origin for Computer Software – U.S. Customs Finally Sheds Some Light on the Issue

By David Gallacher

2012 saw several updates with regard to free trade agreements (“FTAs”) between the U.S. and its international trading allies. The most notable of these was the U.S.-Korea FTA (“KORUS”), but several other changes were made to the U.S. procurement regulations implementing other free trade agreements. Regrettably, negotiations with China remain stalled with no firm promises on the horizon. Following is a summary of some of the key changes over the last year.


Continue Reading Free Trade Agreement Updates for 2012

By David Gallacher

In December 2011 the World Trade Organization reached an agreement in principle to implement “historic revisions” to the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement (WTO GPA), a trade agreement covering the public procurement markets in more than 40 WTO member states (including the United States). On March 30, 2012, the WTO GPA formally adopted these revisions. While the updates have been formally agreed upon, it may take months until two-thirds of the signatory countries ratify the agreement and make the changes official. Nevertheless, the international community appears to be moving forward with plans to implement, pending ratification.


Continue Reading Free Trade Agreement Updates – Changes to the WTO GPA and KORUS FTA

By David Gallacher and Curt Dombek

Last year in January 2011, the President signed the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act (Pub. L. No. 111-383, Section 846), which included a “Buy American” requirement for photovoltaic devices being purchased by the U.S. Department of Defense (“DoD”). We previously discussed this new requirement in our blog. Twelve months later, the DoD has issued an interim rule to implement this new requirement. See 76 Fed. Reg. 18858 (Dec. 20, 2011). The interim rule appears to be straightforward, implementing exceptions and manufacturing requirements with which most companies are already familiar under the Buy American Act or the Trade Agreements Act, but there is some fine print of which all companies selling photovoltaic devices to the DoD should be aware.


Continue Reading “Buy American” and Photovoltaic Devices – Interim Rule Issued by DoD

By David Gallacher

2012 will see changes regarding U.S. free trade agreements relating to, first, the dollar thresholds at which the various agreements apply to federal purchases and, second, the likely expansion of the scope of the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement ("WTO GPA"). The updated dollar thresholds are important for government contractors because the thresholds determine when a contract is subject to the Buy American Act ("BAA") or the Trade Agreements Act ("TAA"). As to the WTO GPA, its expansion should provide significant increased access to the U.S and many of its trading partners in international procurements, although the hoped for accession of China to the WTO GPA remains stalled


Continue Reading New 2012 Updates to U.S. Free Trade Agreements Expected; No Progress With China

By Curtis M. Dombek

The 2011 Defense Authorization Act signed by the President this week contains a requirement in Section 846 for the Department of Defense to incorporate a clause in specified solar energy contracts requiring photovoltaic devices provided under the contract to comply with the Buy American Act, 41 U.S.C. 10a et seq., subject to the exceptions recognized under the Trade Agreements Act of 1979, 19 U.S.C. 2501 et seq. or otherwise provided by law. Photovoltaic devices are defined for purposes of the legislation as “devices that convert light directly into electricity through a solid-state, semiconductor process.”
 


Continue Reading New Defense Authorization Act Imposes Buy American Act Mandate for Photovoltaics

By David S. Gallacher

While Vice President Biden was busy touting Summer 2010 as the “Summer of Recovery” and the economic effects of the February 2009 Stimulus Act (a.k.a. the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Recovery Act, ARRA, the Stimulus Act, etc.), the gears of the regulatory process ground steadily onward. Throughout the summer, the White House Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) issued updated policy guidance implementing the ARRA requirements, and the rule-makers in the FAR Councils remained hard at work updating and (hopefully) finalizing the regulations implementing the finer details of the Recovery Act. Despite the fact that the ARRA funding officially expired on September 30, 2010 (meaning that any unobligated ARRA funds will now revert to the federal treasury to be saved or spent another day), the Government spent its summer fine-tuning the regulations. As the sun begins to set on the Recovery Act, and as the Summer of Recovery fades into the past, we summarize here some of the key features of the final Recovery Act rules promulgated over the last few months. 
 


Continue Reading Bidding Adieu To The “Summer of Recovery”: Changes To ARRA Buy American And Reporting Requirements

Nearly one year ago on February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Pub. L. No. 111-5), more commonly known as the Stimulus Act, the Recovery Act, or ARRA. One of the key features of the Act included a "Buy American" requirement, requiring domestically manufactured "iron, steel, or manufactured goods" to be used in Recovery Act funded projects (located at Section 1605 of the Act). This requirement has proven to be a collossal headache for vendors supporting Recovery Act projects and has also proven to be immensely complicated for the good men and women in Government (including those at the State and local levels), who are faced with the task of figuring out how, where, and when the Recovery Act Buy American requirement applies. 
 


Continue Reading Six Questions To Ask In Figuring Out Whether The Recovery Act Buy American Requirement Applies To You

Effective January 1, 2010, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Ronald Kirk, published new dollar thresholds determining the applicability of the Buy American Act (BAA), the Trade Agreements Act (TAA), and (potentially) other "Buy American" preferences to the United States’ various international free trade agreements. See 74 Federal Register 68907 (December 29, 2009). The changes to the dollar thresholds are effective through the end of 2011, so it is doubtful that we will see any additional escalation until 2012. 
 


Continue Reading New 2010 Updates to Buy American and Trade Agreements Dollar Thresholds; Buy American Requirements Remain Elusive and Complicated