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Feb 20 2013

Collins Tours New Balance Factory in Norway, Invites Top Pentagon Acquisition Official to Visit

Collins urges Department of Defense to buy domestically made footwear

WASHINGTON, DC - In a letter sent today, U.S. Senator Susan Collins invited Frank Kendall, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, to visit one of the New Balance factories in Maine.  Senator Collins has urged the Department of Defense to consider the procurement of domestically manufactured footwear, such as New Balance products, for incoming service members.

"After visiting this facility, I am confident you will have an appreciation for the dedication of this U.S. work force and will develop confidence in the quality and cost-effectiveness of athletic shoes that are made in America," the letter reads.

Senator Collins today toured the New Balance Facility in Norway, ME and met with workers on the production floor.

Below is the full text of the letter:

 

February 20, 2013

The Honorable Frank Kendall
The Under Secretary of Defense
Acquisition, Technology and Logistics
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC  20301-1400

Dear Under Secretary Kendall:

In recent years, I have been in contact with you to express my concern regarding the application of Department of Defense policies, including the Berry Amendment, to the procurement of athletic footwear that is purchased with federal funds.
 
As you know, in fiscal year 2002, the Army stopped issuing athletic shoes to new recruits and provided a cash allowance to purchase athletic shoes.  The Air Force followed suit in 2008 with a similar policy change.  Currently, the Army, Air Force, and the Navy provide a cash voucher that incoming service members use to purchase athletic footwear, without any preference for domestically manufactured footwear.  The military services provide cash allowances for athletic shoes valued at about $15 million annually, 100 times the minimum acquisition threshold of $150,000, which is the procurement amount above which goods must comply under the Berry Amendment.  In addition, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has awarded more than $36 million since October 2012 to domestic companies such as Altama Footwear, Capps Shoes Company, Rocky Brands, and Wolverine for other footwear, such as combat boots and men's and women's shoes for our troops.

If the Department of Defense would align its athletic footwear procurement policies to match the policies already in place for combat boots, service shoes, and other uniform items, it would have the dual benefit of also contributing to the explicit objectives set forth in the President's agenda for his second term.  The President said in his State of the Union address that one of his top priorities is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing.  I share this priority.  He identified Caterpillar and Ford specifically, and he announced that Apple will soon be manufacturing Mac computers in the United States.  When the President gives his State of the Union address next year, domestic footwear manufacturers should be on the list of companies that he cites for creating new American manufacturing jobs.  One way we can make that possible without increasing the federal deficit a single dime is to make sure that the athletic footwear purchased every year by entry-level military recruits is manufactured by U.S. companies.

Last August, you sent a letter to Chairman Levin and me which stated that no U.S. company could currently provide such footwear without an exception to the Berry Amendment due to footwear components not being available in the domestic market.  I am pleased to report that New Balance recently changed its product manufacturing through the addition of a domestically produced mid-sole to remedy this previously identified shortfall. I am confident that other footwear manufacturers will follow the example that New Balance has already established on its own.

I would like to invite you to visit one of the New Balance factories in Maine with me to see this technology development first-hand.  After visiting this facility, I am confident you will have an appreciation for the dedication of this U.S. work force and will develop confidence in the quality and cost-effectiveness of athletic shoes that are made in America.
                                                                                                                    
Thank you for your service to our nation. 

                                                                        Sincerely,

 

                                                                        Susan M. Collins
                                                                        United States Senator