Exemption From Buy American Requirements

Printer Friendly Number 50 FR 1156

Urban Mass Transportation Administration
AGENCY: Urban Mass Transportation Administration, DOT.
[Docket No. 84-G]
50 FR 1156
January 9, 1985

Exemption From Buy American Requirements

ACTION: Notice of proposed exemption and request for comments.

SUMMARY: Section 165 of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 provides that Federal funds may not be obligated by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA) for mass transportation projects unless steel and manufactured products used in the project are produced in the United States. Section 165 further provides that any of its provisions may be waived if their application would be inconsistent with the public interest. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has petitioned UMTA to grant such a public interest waiver for the procurement of microcomputers. Before acting on this request, UMTA is seeking the views and recommendations of all interested and affected parties.

DATE: Comments must be received on or before February 25, 1985. Comments received after this date will not be considered by UMTA in determining whether or not the waiver will be granted.

ADDRESS: Comments should be submitted to UMTA Docket No. 84-G, Urban Mass Transportation Administration, Room 9228, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, D.C. 20590. All comments and suggestions received will be available for examination at the above address between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:Edward J. Gill, Jr., Office of the Chief Counsel, Room 9228, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, D.C. 20590, (202) 426-4063.

TEXT: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 165 of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 provides, with exceptions, that Federal funds may not be obligated for mass transportation projects unless a preference is given to domestically produced products (the Buy America requirements). Section 165(b)(1) provides that any of the requirements of Section 165 may be waived if their application would be inconsistent with the public interest.

Under UMTA programs, recipients of Federal funds are given discretion in determining what kind of equipment they will procure with Federal assistance. Many smaller transit systems are now using microcomputers for their daily transit planning and daily programming needs. According to AASHTO, these microcoputers fail to meet Buy America requirements since their chips and some major components are not made in the United States. As a result, requests for a waiver of Buy America requirements would have to be made each time an UMTA grantee wishes to procure microcomputer equipment. UMTA has recently received several such requests and the waivers have been granted on an individual basis under the provisions of section 165(b)(2) which provides that a waiver may be granted if materials and products being procured are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonable quantities and of satisfactory quality. Under UMTA regulations, the item being procured is presumed to be unavailable if no responsive bid is received which will provide a domestic product.

This information indicates to UMTA that several grantees are experiencing difficulty in purchasing domestically produced microcomputer equipment appropriate to their needs. AASHTO states that the public interest would be best served by a general waiver under section 165(b)(1) which would streamline the purchasing process for all grantees who would need or expect to need similar equipment.

Before acting on AASHTO's waiver request, UMTA is seeking public comment from all interested parties. UMTA is seeking this public comment since it is felt that the granting or denial of this waiver could have nationwide consequences and UMTA desires to have all available information before it prior to rendering a decision. In particular, UMTA desires responses to the following questions:

(1) What definition of microcomputers should be considered by UMTA?

(2) Should the public interest waiver apply to just hardware of microcomputers or to software also?

(3) If a waiver is granted, should there be a dollar limit on the applicability of the waiver?

(4) Should a public interest waiver for microcomputers apply to all UMTA grantees?

In addition, should the total amount of the procurement be taken into consideration or just the cost of individual pieces of equipment?

It should be noted that UMTA will continue to consider individual requests for Buy America waivers for microcomputers during the pending of the AASHTO public interest waiver request proceedings.

Dated: January 2, 1985.

Ralph L. Stanley,

Urban Mass Transportation Administrator.


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