ARLINGTON, Va. — February 16, 2012 — The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) today
applauded members of Congress actively working to reform detrimental procurement practices of the
U.S. government in order to provide more opportunities for job creation in America’s domestic
manufacturing sectors in lieu of federal program that gives these manufacturing jobs to
federally-incarcerated inmates. In a press conference hosted by Representative Bill Huizenga
(R-MI), the lead sponsor of the Federal Prison Industries Competition in Contracting Act (H.R.
3634), the congressman pledged to move this important legislation as soon as possible to bring
these jobs back to law-abiding American citizens. Representative Huizenga was joined by
Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Walter Jones (R-NC), Don Manzullo
(R-IL), and Howard Coble (R-NC).
Jones is the lead sponsor on similar legislation known as the Department of Defense (DOD)
Textile and Apparel Procurement Fairness Act (H.R. 2312), also supported by AAFA, that would
further level the playing field for government contractors who outfit American servicemen and women
by limiting the government contracting preference currently enjoyed by federally-incarcerated
“The bipartisan coalition of representatives who continue to oppose the idea that the U.S.
government should put inmates to work over taxpayers are to be commended for their dedication to
American manufacturing jobs,” said AAFA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke. “I would like to
thank Representative Huizenga for his leadership to reform the unfair advantage federal inmates
have over hardworking Americans. I would also like to thank Representatives Maloney,
Sensenbrenner, Jones, Manzullo, and Coble for their continued support.”
“Our industry’s market share is declining because a significant portion of the Department of
Defense contracts are given to Federal Prison Industries. This means that companies like ours can
no longer compete for those opportunities,” said Jonathan Long, Program Manager, Military Systems
for Propper International and who served as an industry voice during today’s press conference.
“While we support the intent of the FPI program and need to find ways to rehabilitate prisoners
serving their terms, we don’t believe that taking scarce jobs away from law abiding and taxpaying
citizens is the way to proceed.”
In 2010, the U.S. military spent more than $2 billion on uniforms, camouflage, training gear,
and combat footwear for U.S. servicemen and women. Nearly $140 million of that business went
to convicted felons in 24 federal prisons around the country under the auspices of Federal Prison
Industries (FPI), a federally-operated program that puts inmates to work while in prison.
AAFA supports reform through two legislative vehicles, including the DOD Textile and Apparel
Procurement Fairness Act (H.R. 2312) introduced on June 23, 2011, by Representative Walter Jones
(R-NC) and Representative Larry Kissell (D-NC) and the Federal Prison Industries Competition in
Contracting Act (H.R. 3634) introduced by Representative Bill Huizenga (R-MI) on December 12,
2011. Both pieces of legislation aim to bring equity back to the procurement process by
providing private industry with more opportunities to bid on government contracts.
The DOD Textile and Apparel Procurement Fairness Act (H.R. 2312) would:
- Limit FPI to five percent of any one clothing and textile-based product made for the DOD.
- Require DOD to report to Congress annually on all market research that led to the award of
contracts to FPI.
- Require DOD to report to Congress on the disbursement of funds to FPI and the effect of their
preference on the private sector.
- Direct DOD to reduce FPI at the same percentage as industry when DOD reduces quantities in
- Prohibit FPI from taking any small business set-aside contracts.
- Prohibit FPI from obtaining contracts only to subcontract that work out to another entity.
The Federal Prison Industries Competition in Contracting Act (H.R. 3634) would:
- Require FPI to compete for government contracts, minimizing unfair competition with the private
sector firms and their non-inmate workers.
- Prohibit FPI from taking any small business set-aside contracts.
- Require FPI to submit a detailed analysis of the probable impact on the private sector with
proposals that would expand sales of new products or services.
- Require agencies to research private sector products based on price, quality, and time of
delivery before making a purchase from FPI to best meet agency needs.
- Require purchasing agencies to negotiate terms and conditions of contracts and price paid with
FPI, cannot exceed fair and reasonable price determined by the Federal Acquisition Regulation.
Without the passage of these two important pieces of legislation, FPI will continue to enjoy
utilize its mandatory source preference which enables the program to unfairly claim federal
contracts that outfit U.S. troops, including a preference over businesses that employ blind and
disabled workers. As a result, domestic manufacturers, and the hardworking taxpayers they
employ, lose valuable market share — and jobs — to federally-incarcerated inmates. Last year,
FPI posted a $36 million profit in their apparel and textile business alone.
Small apparel and textile manufacturers continue to lose contracts to FPI because of FPI’s
ability to unilaterally take almost any contract it chooses. These situations have led to
layoffs, job losses and, in some cases, the closure of whole “Made in America” factories.
Moreover, FPI also represents millions of dollars of lost opportunities, as U.S. manufacturers are
not even afforded the chance to bid on contracts that could have led to the retention and creation
of U.S. jobs. Domestic apparel and footwear manufacturing for the U.S. military accounts for
more than 100,000 U.S. jobs.
From a national security perspective, the Berry Amendment — which requires the clothing and
footwear worn by our troops to be entirely made in the U.S.A. — is one of the most commonsense
regulations on the books. Because of the Berry Amendment, domestic manufacturers are able to
produce top-of-the-line uniforms and footwear for U.S. troops while protecting the proprietary
nature of our war fighters’ first line of defense when on the battlefield.
Keeping the Berry Amendment strong is vital for the safety of U.S. servicemen and women, as
well as the overall health of the U.S. apparel and footwear industry. Congress must move to
quickly pass the DOD Textile and Apparel Procurement Fairness Act and the Federal Prison Industries
Competition in Contracting Act to limit FPI’s market share and level the playing field for U.S.
manufacturers and hard-working taxpayers.
AAFA recently launched a new issue-focused Web site at www.wewearreform.org and posted a
petition urging support for reform at www.whitehouse.gov. In addition to these grassroots
efforts to raise issue awareness, AAFA also recently held an advocacy day on Capitol Hill today
with AAFA government contract members.
Posted on February 21, 2012