In an effort to promote Made-in-America goods and services, the White House through its newly created Made in America Office released a 15-page guidance dealing with proposed waivers to federal departments and agencies.
“Transparent reporting of waivers from Made in America Laws will not only build confidence that the laws are operating as intended, but also provide data to inform policy development and strategic decision making,” stated the June 11 release from the Office of Management and Budget.
The initial implementation of this transparency program will include U.S.-flag shipping, specifically the Jones Act and the Cargo Preference Acts of 1904 and 1954.
The guidance is in response to President Biden’s Made in America executive order of January 25, in which the Jones Act was specifically mentioned. It calls for transactional reviews by federal department and agency senior accountable officials in coordination with the Made in America office. That office will create a public website to allow for public transparency to be running during fiscal year 2022.
In citing the need for such a waiver review process within the U.S.-flag industry, the guidance “recognizes foreign near-peer competitors are increasingly creating and exploiting economic vulnerabilities in gaining undue influence over the global transportation system, which provides the access to worldwide supply chains that supports our national defense, vital emergency services, critical infrastructure, economy, and way of life.”
It outlines that any waiver of cargo preference laws will include the nature and description of transportation required, why the department/agency cannot acquire a U.S.-flag vessel, an explanation of the national security interest needed for a U.S.-flag waiver, and any additional information.
If a requested waiver does not involve cargo preference, then the transparency process calls for stating who seeks such a waiver, the determination by the Maritime Administrator of the availability of U.S.-flag vessels to meet the national security requirement, actions taken by the Maritime Administrator to enable U.S.-flag vessel capability, information from other departments and/or agencies, any notices from the Department of Homeland Security prior to granting or denying such a waiver, and any additional information to understand why a waiver is needed and consistent with the law.
The Made in America Office will work with relevant agencies to review how best to ensure agency compliance with cargo preference requirements to maximize the utilization of U.S.-flag vessels, in excess of any applicable statutory minimums, to the greatest extent possible.
While U.S.-flag shipping will be among the first to be covered by this guidance, it eventually will apply to construction and purchases of goods and materials used throughout the federal government.