One of the mantras of president Trump’s campaign was to “buy American, hire American”. Once in office, he quickly issued the ‘Presidential Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American’ (EO). While the EO establishes the administration’s policy to strictly enforce existing domestic preference laws as to maximise the use of domestic manufacturers and labour when the US government is procuring goods and services, it does not change existing law or regulation.

Consistent with the campaign refrain, however, federal agencies have increased their efforts to monitor contractor compliance with the domestic preference laws. Thus, it is more important than ever for US government contractors to take steps to ensure that contracting and purchasing personnel understand these domestic preference rules and restrictions, and ensure that the necessary processes and procedures are in place to avoid a compliance failure.

This article provides an overview of the most significant country of origin (COO) requirements applicable to federal government contracts – the Buy American Act (BAA) and the Trade Agreements Act (TAA). This article cannot comprehensively discuss the complex, oftentimes confusing, interplay of these laws and regulations. However, given that each require certifications to be made to the US government, and the increased scrutiny that these certifications are receiving, it is important for all potential US government contractors to be aware of the key aspects of the BAA and TAA. In addition, this article provides practical strategies for COO contract compliance.

Jan-Mar 2018 Issue

Pepper Hamilton LLP