Buy American Waiver - vehicles

December 02, 2014


There is a danger of government agencies gutting the USA made standards with "waivers".

The Obama stimulus of 2009 included a requirement that goods purchased with government money are USA made. The US government is the biggest consumer in the world, so its buying choices can drive industry procurement choices.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), among others, will not send checks to state governments (or others) for transportation projects without a showing that the goods to be bought are USA made.  But a waiver of the requirement can be obtained if it is shown that USA made goods can't be found.

I am on the email list for FHWA waiver requests.  FHWA is proposing to grant 75 waivers from Buy America for certain vehicles because the vendors allegedly cannot find vehicles made with 100% US iron and steel. 

That may be true.  However, the FHWA wants to allow an "assembled in the USA" standard in this case.  This means that 100% of the parts and subcomponents can come from non-USA sources so long as a few screws and bolts are installed to constitute "assembly".

I submitted this proposed waiver objection below to the FHWA.

This proposed waiver is too broad.  The "assembled in the US" standard sought means that zero percent of the parts and subcomponents are USA made.  So long as a few screws are installed within the USA to constitute "assembly".

If you cannot get to 100% USA content, then set a lower standard of USA content that is at the high end of actual availability, but do not eviscerate that standard.

Stated differently, it is unreasonable to use the "can't get all the metal here" rationale to justify a zero percent USA Made waiver result.  Therefore the waiver request should be denied or substantially modified to require a substantial portion of USA made content.

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