March 20, 2023

APWA Encourages Caution with Proposed Build America, Buy America Changes

Washington D.C.—New proposed rules for the Biden administration’s “Build America, Buy America Act” have drawn a response and suggestions from the American Public Works Association’s CEO and president. APWA is the nation’s largest public works group.

“Having different sets of Buy America requirements within the same project will create needless confusion and complications,” APWA CEO Scott D. Grayson, CAE, and President Keith Pugh wrote to the Office of Management and Budget. “After a review of past experiences, we strongly recommend proceeding cautiously with such a large undertaking.”

Grayson and Pugh offered 5 counterproposals:

  1. Adequate time for the supply chain to adjust to the final rules;
  2. Adequate time to educate enforcement staff and update existing policies;
  3. Adequate time for project contracts to adjust so those which already have BABAA-related language do not impose expanded requirements in the middle of construction due to newly released rules;
  4. Consistent rules, interpretations, and enforcement across all federal agencies; and
  5. A functioning and fully transparent waiver process to address real-world supply chain limitations and hard deadlines for waiver consideration.

“OMB should consider rolling out specific construction materials under which BABAA requirements will apply over time. BABAA requirements could be applied to one material at a time over a transitional period sufficient to allow domestic manufacturing capacity to meet the requirement’s demands,” the APWA letter says.

In response to “various questions related to construction materials,” Grayson and Pugh suggested:

“It is important to not only clearly and specifically identify construction materials that fall under BABAA requirements, but also explicitly detail which materials are exempt. Excluded materials such as (i) cement and cementitious materials; (ii) aggregates such as stone, sand, or gravel; or (iii) aggregate binding agents or additives should be entirely excluded from coverage under BABAA. Raw aggregates should always be fully excluded from BABAA compliance calculations, which means excluding these raw materials in calculations of precast concrete products.”

“APWA members pride themselves on being committed to public service by profession and being a trusted resource is another way we work to protect our communities,” the letter concludes.

About APWA
The American Public Works Association ( is a not-for-profit, international organization of more than 30,000 members involved in the field of public works. APWA serves its members by promoting professional excellence and public awareness through education, advocacy, and the exchange of knowledge. APWA is headquartered in Kansas City, MO, has an office in Washington, D.C., and 63 chapters and 97 branches throughout North America.

Mark Shade
APWA Government Affairs Media Manager
(202) 218-6736;