Biden Appoints Made in America Director

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The Biden Administration took a major step to implement the President's January 25, 2021, Executive Order, focused on building up the Buy American and Buy America statutes and regulations, with the appointment of the first director of the new Made in America office.

The appointment, announced on April 27, 2021, names Celeste Drake as the head of this new department that is within the Office of Management and Budget. Ms. Drake, known as a trade expert, was most recently the executive in charge of government affairs at the Directors Guild of America. She also previously worked as a trade and globalization policy specialist for the AFL-CIO.

The White House's statement announcing the appointment described Drake's new role:

As the Nation's first Made in America Director, Celeste Drake will shape and implement Federal procurement and financial management policy to help carry out the President's vision of a future made in all of America by all of America's workers — including minority entrepreneurs and small businesses in every region in our country.

Since President Biden issued the executive order in January, there has been little movement to implement the various Buy American changes described in the order. One of the central tasks of the Made in America Director will be to create a consistent process for the review of Buy American waiver requests. In addition to consistency, the new office will be increasing scrutiny of waiver requests with the intent of reducing the number of waivers granted.

The executive order sets out a series of actions Ms. Drake will need to take 45 days from the date of her appointment. These include:

  • (1) Publishing a list of the information that granting agencies shall include when submitting descriptions of proposed waivers and justifications to the Made in America Director; and
  • (2) Publishing a deadline, not to exceed 15 business days, by which the Made in America Director will notify the head of the agency that the Made in America Director has either waived the review or will notify the agency in writing of the result of the review.

The Made in America Director will also work with the General Services Administration to create a public website where all proposed waivers will be listed, including whether the waiver request was granted.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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