OMB issues 'buying for America' memo

By John Liang / July 21, 2020 at 1:50 PM

The White House Office of Management and Budget has issued a memo encouraging the heads of executive departments and agencies to focus their contracting activities on "smart buying for America."

"Through smart buying for America, we will deliver the services our citizens need more rapidly while strengthening our nation's economic recovery from the effects of the pandemic," acting OMB Director Russell Vought writes in the memo. "The Federal Government is the largest and single-most impactful buyer in the world. In Fiscal Year 2019, federal buying offices across the nation spent more than a half trillion dollars for products and services -- almost half of our discretionary budget. The government transacted with nearly 130,000 entities, two-thirds of which are small businesses, for a wide range of needs, from defense and construction to information technology (IT), health care, professional services and transportation and logistics. More than 90% of the products purchased were U.S.-made."

Vought's memo notes that the fourth quarter of every fiscal year "is typically the busiest period for our country's buying offices, with up to 40% of total contract spending occurring during this three-month period. This year is no different."

As the country reopens and recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, OMB is calling on agencies "to keep the following considerations in mind to support timely awards and maximize return on investment from each taxpayer dollar."

Those considerations include:

* Take full advantage of acquisition flexibilities and innovative tools.

* Use the resources of category management.

* Leverage small businesses, the AbilityOne Program, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

* Buy American.

* Accelerate payments for all businesses.

House lawmakers this week are debating legislation that gradually ramps up "Buy American" requirements on the Defense Department's largest programs of record.