The federal government has a long-standing preference for incorporating domestic materials and products into public construction projects. While a number of statutes and regulations promote this policy, the Buy American Act of 1933 (BAA) is the oldest and arguably most well-known. The essence of the BAA’s construction provisions sounds simple: the use of foreign-produced materials and products on public construction projects is prohibited. However, a dense web of regulations and statutes interact to create exceptions and exemptions to the BAA’s application, making the BAA one of the most complex bodies of law to comprehend. Those contractors who fail to comply with the BAA’s requirements can face costly legal issues, debarment or, in some situations, criminal investigation and prosecution. With the new administration, now is the time to get familiar with the BAA, and the following primer is a good place to start.
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