By: Todd M. Garland
President Trump is expected to sign an executive order today directing a government-wide review of what the administration refers to as “Buy American” and “Hire American” rules applicable to federally funded projects.
The executive order will direct “every agency to scrupulously monitor, enforce and comply with Buy American laws,” which the Trump Administration considers to be its “highest priority when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars The executive order will direct agencies to maximize use of domestic materials and products when procuring goods and services. Additionally, before awarding government contracts, agencies will now consider whether offerors used “dumped” foreign materials – or other “injurious subsidization” of foreign items – to submit the lowest bid. The administration contends that it is “unfair for government contracts to be awarded to low bidders” that use these methods to “push out the domestic producers.”
With respect to “Hire American” rules applicable to federal procurements, the executive order will require strict enforcement of all laws governing use of non-U.S. labor. Specifically, the executive order will include significant changes to the H-1B guest worker visa program. The program allows U.S. companies to employ highly skilled foreign workers if U.S. workers are unavailable. The executive order will direct the departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Labor, and State to develop plans targeting fraud and abuse of the H-1B program. Currently, H-1B visas are awarded by a random lottery. The administration intends to change this practice by requiring companies to use the program solely for skilled workers who earn high wages or have master’s degrees or other similar qualifications.