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Oops…Home Depot Accused of Violating Buy American Act

As if there was a “Now Serving Number…” sign at the Justice Department, Home Depot has joined a growing list of companies accused of illegal business practices with the Government.

In this case San Francisco-based attorney Paul Scott along with several colleagues filed a whistle blower suit against the home improvement giant alleging that Home Depot had illegally provided Chinese made products to the Government in violation of the Buy American Act. This has attracted the Justice Department’s attention but they have not decided whether to join the suit.

According to a recent Associated Press story on the subject, “In the last six years, Staples Inc., Office Depot Inc. and OfficeMax Inc. have paid a combined $22 million to settle government claims they violated the act. In 2008, the Department of Justice announced that W.W. Grainger Inc. agreed to pay $6 million to settle claims the company overcharged the government and provided it with Chinese and Taiwanese products in violation of the Buy American Act.

In my opinion two things are driving this recent upsurge in enforcement of the Buy American Act as well as other federal acquisition laws. First, the smaller war effort means that there will be fewer purchases and that they will be more closely scrutinized. Second, the faltering economy is causing American companies to ensure that they maintain as much of a competitive edge as possible. Large companies who provide a wide variety of products will claim that it is impossible to ensure that everything they sell complies with the Buy American Act. That is pathetic. I am all for our troops getting the best that they can, but you can’t tell me that ball point pens made overseas are better than ones made here. It is about profit, pure and simple. As an American tax payer, I just don’t see how it is in our best interest to purchase products made overseas for Government use unless they offer a distinct performance advantage unavailable from domestic products or are simply not produced here. Standard commodities do not fall into either of these categories.

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3 Responses to “Oops…Home Depot Accused of Violating Buy American Act”

  1. PJ says:

    All greed. The American dollar is starting to be worth less and less as time goes by because companies are jumping ship and heading overseas to produce products at a much cheaper price so they can profit more. We keep losing jobs left and right to the BS and they think its ok. As time goes by I think more and more companies are going to start popping up like this on the radar for their cheap products and costing us millions. But as long as they have a new boat or a house I guess its ok for them. Greedy bastards.

  2. MarkM says:

    Define a “commodity.”

    I’m all for the “Buy American” concept – but to then allow a huge disclaimer like “commodity” to be exempt is exactly the problem.

    Ink pens can certainly be considered a commodity, along with BA30’s, socks, and considering the quantities involved, 5.56 ammo. Millions of the same item produced to meet a spec and perform in a like manner are commodities.

    Look a bit closer, the “Buy American” philosophy should work better than keeping sheltered workshops in business assembling ink pens because they have bidding advantages. It should keep you and your neighbor employed making products to sell to other Americans – but that’s not happening anymore.

    Our cost of living and the associated pay requirements have caused us to price our own goods out of the market. It’s not just the Greeks who need to figure out what needs to be fixed – the US is the largest socialist government in the world now – we can’t or won’t even pay for American made computers, TV’s, cell phones, furniture, clothing, shoes, cars, knives, tools, hardback books, or children’s toys.

    If anything, the irony is that Americans CAN’T buy American. Are we fining companies for skirting the law, or because some American made products simply don’t exist in the quantities required by contract?

    It doesn’t help one bit to penalize companies with an inventory tax – assessed annually – against any materials or merchandise stockpiled in the logistics train for eventual distribution. “Just In Time” really means “Jack Up The Price” when disaster or economic booms are on us. Instead of having a warehouse full of sheetrock available for distribution when the supply chain is running short – like after a hurricane in Florida – we get imports from China that take jobs away from Americans. And later, has to be torn out and replaced.

    YOU are telling Congress this is how business should be taxed to YOUR disadvantage, and yet it keeps going on, and everyone points fingers at the other guy.

    Take some responsibility and start understanding what’s happening.

  3. Nathan says:

    I would like to quote Benjamin Franklin: “He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.”