Effect of Restriction on DHS's Purchasing of Foreign Textiles Is Limited

What GAO Found The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has updated its policies and procedures to incorporate a restriction on its procurement of certain textiles as specified in the “Kissell Amendment.” In August 2009, DHS amended its procurement policies to reflect the Kissell Amendment restriction and describe the limitations on DHS’s procurement of specified textiles from sources outside the United States. All 11 contracts GAO reviewed for uniforms and body armor entered into by a DHS component since August 2009 included language regarding the Kissell Amendment restriction. In addition, according to officials, DHS has several procedures to ensure that contracting officers adhere to the requirements of the Kissell Amendment. These include a required acquisition review process; a requirement for all DHS components to use department-wide contracts; verification procedures; and training for contracting personnel on the Kissell Amendment restriction.

In practice, the Kissell Amendment restriction affects a limited number of procurements due to multiple factors and has not fully restricted DHS from purchasing textiles from foreign sources. The restriction applies only to certain textile purchases directly related to U.S. national security interests above the simplified acquisition threshold of $150,000, and must be applied consistent with U.S. obligations under international agreements. For most of DHS, this restriction limits only procurements that fall between $150,000 and $191,000, the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement threshold. However, because procurements by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of textiles are excluded from most international agreements, the Kissell Amendment prevents TSA’s purchasing of certain textiles above $150,000 from all but three foreign countries. In September 2014, DHS signed a uniforms contract, the largest procurement covered by the Kissell Amendment.  Read Full Report