Florida Department of Transportation

Erin K. Schepers
FloridaTRIPS Manager
Florida Department of Transportation
605 Suwannee Street, MS-26
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Re: Request for Buy America Waiver

Dear Ms. Schepers:

I write in response to your e-mail dated July 28, 2009, in which you ask the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to waive its Buy America requirements for certain modified minivans. The basis for your request is that minivan chassis are no longer available from a domestic source. For the reasons outlined below, I have decided to waive FTA’s Buy America requirements in this instance.

According to your e-mail, the Florida Department of Transportation has entered into contracts with the Braun Corporation (Braun) and ElDorado National, Kansas, (ElDorado) for modified minivans. Braun and ElDorado certified compliance with FTA’s Buy America requirements. Both parties intended to fulfill their contractual obligations by providing a Chevrolet Uplander chassis that was manufactured in the United States. However, since these contracts were awarded, Chevrolet has stopped producing the Uplander. With the Uplander no longer available, Chrysler’s Dodge Caravan minivan is the only vehicle suitable for Braun and ElDorado’s conversion process. The Dodge Caravan does not comply with FTA’s Buy America requirements because Chrysler has chosen to close its St. Louis, MO, plant. Currently, Chrysler manufactures all of its Dodge Caravan minivans in Ontario, Canada.

With limited exceptions, FTA may not obligate funds for a project unless all iron, steel, and manufactured products used in the project are produced in the United States.[1] When procuring rolling stock, the cost of components and subcomponents produced in the United States must be more than 60 percent of the cost of all components of the rolling stock and final assembly of the rolling stock must occur in the United States.[2] The Buy America Act requires, with few exceptions, that all steel, iron and manufactured goods used in FTA-funded projects be produced in the United States.[3] One such exception is that of non-availability—that in some instances steel, iron, and goods produced in the United States are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities or are not of a satisfactory quality. In instances where a product is not available from a domestic source, Congress has authorized FTA to waive the above requirement and allow, based on non-availability, the use in an FTA-funded project of steel, iron or manufactured goods produced outside the United States.[4]

Based on the information above, I have found that minivan chassis are not available in this instance. Therefore, pursuant to the provisions of 49 CFR 661.7, I hereby grant the Florida Department of Transportation a non-availability waiver for the modified minivans that will be provided pursuant to its existing contract with Braun and ElDorado. This waiver will permit Braun and ElDorado to count Chrysler Dodge Caravan chassis as domestic for purposes of Buy America compliance. It does not waive any other Buy America requirements.

Feel free to contact Jayme L. Blakesley at (202) 366-0304 or jayme.blakesley@dot.gov with any questions.


Scott A. Biehl

Acting Chief Counsel

[1] 49 CFR 661.5(a).

[2] 49 U.S.C. § 5323(j)(2)(C).

[3] 49 U.S.C. § 5323(j).

[4] 49 U.S.C. § 5323(j)(2)(B).

FTA granted a one-time waiver to the Forida Department of Transportation for the purchase of modified minivans.  NOTE: Waiver is limited to a single procurement.

September 8, 2009