False Designations of Origin on GSA Advantage!

Dear Friends,

We thought you might be interested in a letter Sen. Charles Schumer (NY-D) recently sent to the General Services Administration regarding potential misstatements of origin on GSA-Advantage!  As you may know, GSA Advantage! is the on-line shopping site for federal agencies.  A copy of Sen. Schumer’s letter can be found here.

In the letter, Senator Schumer alleges that GSA Advantage! contains numerous products with potentially false designations of origin.  This is an issue because in order to be listed on GSA Advantage!, products are required to comply with the country of origin requirements contained in the Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (“TAA”).  This generally means that the products must be manufactured/last substantially transformed in the United States or in a TAA country in order to be listed/acquired.  TAA countries do not include countries like China, India, Malaysia, etc.

If a product is not TAA eligible, it is not supposed to be listed on GSA Advantage!  In practice, however, this is not very well enforced.  Generally, if a product is listed by the offeror as TAA eligible, such representation is not questioned by GSA.  Since products are often offered for sale to the government by third-party resellers (i.e., many companies do not themselves list products on GSA Advantage!), there can be a disconnect between the actual origin and what is included by the reseller.

We expect the GSA Administrator to take Sen. Schumer’s request seriously.  While the request was focused on a particular industry, we believe that the review will likely expand to other products.  We encourage all companies to do a quick search on GSA Advantage! to see if their products are included (you can search by your company name) and, if so, whether the origin is identified correctly (e.g., is “Made in:  United States of America” correct?).  If not, please let us know.  We have helped clients in the past clear up potential misstatements of origin made to GSA by third-party resellers.

We hope this is helpful.  If you have any questions, please let us know.

Best regards,

Ted

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