Local Finance Bulletin #63

Buy American? Buy America? Build America? An Introduction to Domestic Procurement Preferences in Federal Financial Assistance for North Carolina's Counties and Municipalities

Friday, March 17, 2023

Many of North Carolina’s local governments have been awash in federal funding since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the complexity and quantity of rules applicable to the expenditure of those monies has not decreased since the pandemic began. Federal funds arrived in local government coffers, as they always have, with significant “strings attached.”

Since at least 1933, Congress has in most cases required the federal government to prefer the acquisition of American-made goods and materials over foreign-made items when it purchases goods or contracts for construction services. Over time, Congress has tied a similar “string” to certain types of federal aid that the federal government offers to non-federal entities like state and local governments, requiring many recipients of federal financial assistance to make comparable procurement preferences when spending federal monies. This bulletin introduces North Carolina’s municipalities and counties to common types of these “domestic procurement preferences” that they may encounter when seeking federal aid.

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