President Biden’s Jan. 25 executive order to direct more of the Federal government’s spending to the benefit of American businesses has a larger focus on commodity and non-tech goods, but may end up extending to commercially available IT products.

The order, entitled “Ensuring the Future is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers,” states as policy that the government should “use terms and conditions of Federal financial assistance awards and Federal procurements to maximize the use of goods, products, and materials produced in, and services offered in, the United States.”

Further, it says the government should, “wherever possible, procure goods, products, materials, and services from sources that will help American businesses compete in strategic industries and help America’s workers thrive.”

The order aims to put new policy muscle behind a variety of existing “Made in America” laws that direct preference in Federal buying to U.S.-made goods, and notes that existing law covers “iron, steel, and manufactured goods,” as well as maritime transport services.

Despite the focus of existing laws on those non-tech kinds of products, the executive order also directs the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council to review “existing constraints on the extension of the requirements in Made in America Laws to information technology that is a commercial item.”

The FAR Council is also directed to “develop recommendations for lifting these constraints” on IT products to further promote the order’s policies.

Under the order, Federal agency heads are directed to consider suspending or revising existing arrangements that run counter to the White House directive, and proposing new actions to enforce the policy.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will set up a new Made in America Office, and Federal agencies that want waivers to the executive order will have to apply for them with that office. The Made in America office, through the General Services Administration (GSA), will then publicly publish a list of the proposed waivers, allowing U.S. businesses to identify proposed waivers, and to contact agencies that are seeking them.

Agencies will also partner with the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership to conduct “supplier scouting” and find American companies that can produce “goods, products, and materials” in the U.S. that meet Federal procurement needs.

In a comment issued Jan. 25, the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), the trade group said, “Our industry fully shares the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of creating good jobs that support the American workforce. In line with this goal and the administration’s commitment to cooperation with U.S. allies and strategic partners, we stress the importance of existing global supply chains for the development of new technologies that power U.S. jobs, national security, and global competitiveness.”

“We encourage the administration to ensure that actions stemming from this Executive Order do not impede U.S. government access to the latest and most innovative technologies or inhibit the tech industry’s ability to continue to effectively develop and deliver innovative, finished goods and services,” the group said. “To these ends, we urge government officials to engage early and frequently with industry in the implementation of this Executive Order so that it is undertaken in a strategic and effective manner.”

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.