International Corporate Accountability Roundtable

U.S. Procurement Reform


The U.S. federal government is the largest single purchaser in the global economy, with annual procurement spending that totals between $350 and $500 billion. 

Like other mega-consumers, it procures through global supply chains that enable large-scale production of goods to varying specifications—all at the lowest possible cost—and often in countries where rule of law and respect for human rights is weak or nonexistent. As such, the U.S. government’s global supply chains are linked to a range of human rights violations.

In 2014 ICAR published Turning a Blind Eye? Respecting Human Rights in Government Purchasing. This report provides a preliminary road map of ways in which the procurement process can be used to leverage the U.S. government’s immense purchasing power to push government suppliers to respect human rights. 

The report can be downloaded here.

ICAR’s work on U.S. procurement sits within the International Learning Lab on Public Procurement and Human Rights (Learning Lab), an initiative designed to create a space for dialogue between relevant actors and to scale up good practice in integrating human rights into public purchasing. For more information on the Learning Lab please see our project on global procurement reform.

Currently, the main focus of ICAR’s research and advocacy efforts in the United States is on transparency; more specifically, supply chain mapping and disclosure. Our research and advocacy strategy takes two approaches, a “top down” approach and a “bottom up” approach. The “top down” approach has taken the form of pushing for full implementation of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (the FFATA). While the “bottom up” approach has taken the form of finding federal agencies willing to work with the legal authority they already have to test pilot reforms within their agency’s apparel purchasing.

Our Publications on Government Procurement