REQUIRE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO BUY AMERICAN MORE OFTEN
The Berry Amendment Strengthens Our Economy and National Security
It is vital to America’s national security and jobs that the U.S. military maintain the ability to source high- quality, innovative textile materials, apparel, and personal equipment from a vibrant U.S. textile industrial base. Key to this goal is defending and strengthening Berry Amendment (10 USC 2533a), a law requiring the Department of Defense (DOD) to buy textile and clothing products made with virtually 100 percent U.S. content and labor.
The U.S. textile industry provides high-tech and functional components for the U.S. government, including more than $1.8 billion worth of vital uniforms and equipment for our armed forces each year. The Department of Defense estimates that over 8,000 different textile items are purchased for use by the U.S. military, and this figure rises to more than 30,000 line items when individual sizes are considered. As domestic suppliers, U.S. textile mills provide the highest quality goods on a timetable that our armed forces demand.
Concerns with Defense Department Acquisition Reform
On April 17, the House Armed Services Committee Chairman (HASC) Mac Thornberry (R-TX) released a draft bill called the Accelerating the Pace of Acquisitions Reform Act of 2018 (APARA) that would reform how the Department of Defense (DOD) buys goods and services.
The release was timed to elicit public comment prior to the HASC’s mark up of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which is scheduled for May 9. Chairman Thornberry plans to insert this language or a modified version of APARA in his chairman’s mark.
USIFI and NFI strongly oppose two anti-jobs provisions in APARA that would weaken the Berry Amendment and other domestic preference laws in two ways:
- Removes “commercial products” from Berry Amendment coverage – APARA Sec. 203(a)(2)
- Removes “commercial products” from Specialty Metals Clause coverage – APARA Sec. 203(a)(3)
Because APARA pulls directly from the definition of “commercial item” (41 USC 103) to define “commercial products,” the universe of textile and clothing goods excluded from Berry will be broad:
- any product of a type customarily used by the general public, or by nongovernmental entities, for purposes other than governmental purposes that has been sold, leased, or licensed, or offered for sale, lease, or license to the general public
- any product that has evolved from a commercial product as described herein, through technical or performance advances, even if it is not yet available in the commercial marketplace, if it will be available in time to satisfy the government’s requirements
- As under current law, although the new “commercial products” definition encompasses “commercial off the shelf” or COTS products, it should be noted that “commercial products” do not necessarily have to be COTS products. Products that require modifications of a type customarily available in the commercial marketplace, or require minor government-unique modifications, would be considered “commercial products” just like they are treated now as “commercial items.”
Concerns with Defense Department Organizational Reform
On April 17, Chairman Thornberry also released a draft of the Comprehensive Pentagon Bureaucracy Reform and Reduction Act (CPBRA), a measure that would reform Department of Defense (DOD) organizations involved buying goods and services, including the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA).
- CPBRA directs DLA to come up with a plan to reduce charges to customers by not less than 10 percent ( See Section 9 beginning on page 12 ).
- NFI & USIFI have reservations about how such a mandate would be implemented, particularly with concern as to who will bear what cost.
Other USIFI and NFI NDAA Requests
USIFI and NFI have two additional NDAA requests that would strengthen domestic procurement and grow jobs:
- De-couple the Berry Amendment and the Specialty Metals Clause from the Simplified Acquisition Threshold (SAT), revert both to FY 2017 level, and chain future increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
- All military orders at or above the SAT are subject to the Berry Amendment. The FY 2018 NDAA raised the SAT from $150,000 to $250,000, affecting approximately $57 million worth of textile and apparel orders last year. Even a seemingly small SAT increase like this ensures that a significant amount of U.S. defense spending could flow to non-market economies like China at the expense of American jobs.
- Require that all government purchases made through DLA be Berry compliant when DLA acts as a purchasing agent for other federal agencies.
To create more jobs and strengthen America’s national security, USIFI and NFI request the following actions with respect to the FY 2019 NDAA:
- Oppose excluding commercial products from Berry Amendment coverage
- Oppose forcing industry to foot the entire bill for Defense Department organizational reform
- De-couple Berry from the SAT and bring future increases in line with CPI in the FY 2019 NDAA
- Require that all government purchases made through DLA be Berry compliant when DLA acts as
a purchasing agent for other federal agencies