Mr. Etienne Lamairesse
ASK Contactless Technologies, Inc.
155 Post Road East, Suite 3
Westport, Connecticut 06880
Dear Mr. Lamairesse:
This letter responds to your correspondence of October 4, 2004, in which you request a Buy America non-availability component waiver for the ASK GEN 300 series (GEN 310, 315, 320, and 325) of OEM contactless smart card couplers, which are manufactured in France for use in fare collection systems. You argue that the GEN 300 series of products, or their functional equivalent, are not available from a United States source. However, based on my review of market information, I have found this not to be the case. For the reasons below, I have determined that a waiver is not appropriate here.
FTA's requirements concerning domestic preference for federally funded transit projects are set forth in 49 U.S.C. §5323(j). However, Section 5323(j)(2)(B) states that those requirements shall not apply if the item or items being procured are not produced in the U.S. in sufficient and reasonably available quantities and of a satisfactory quality. The implementing regulation also provides that a waiver may be requested "for a specific item or material that is used in the production of a manufactured product." 49 C.F.R. 661.7(g). The regulations allow a bidder or supplier to request a waiver only if it is being sought under this section. See, 49 C.F.R. 661.7(g) and 49 C.F.R. 661.9(d).
You state that to your knowledge, ASK is the only producer of an OEM smart card device capable of reading ISO 1443-1-2-3-4 Type A/B, ETS 300-330, ETS 300-683, ENV 50166-2, and Calypso standard classifications of smart cards. However, FTA requested comment on this matter and received responses from Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc. (Cubic) and ViVOtech, Inc. (ViVOtech), who assert that they produce products in the United States which provide similar functionality to the ASK GEN 300 series of OEM contactless smart card couplers. For example, ViVOtech produces a suite of contactless smart card readers called ViVOpay, which are compatible with common interfaces such as ISO 1443-1-2-3-4 Type A/B, Mifare, and Mifare Ultralight.
Cubic makes a series of multi-protocol card interface devices called Tri-Reader, which are also capable of reading and writing ISO 1443-1-2-3-4 Type A/B contactless smart cards. In addition, the Tri-Reader devices are compatible with the following standards: ENV 501662, ETS 300-330, and ETS 301-489-3 (which Cubic states has replaced the ETS 300-683 standard). As for the ASK GEN 300 series’ ability to interface with Calypso, this is a proprietary French standard that is not applicable to the U.S. transit market, according to Cubic.
Based on the above-referenced information, I have determined that the grounds for a "non-availability" waiver do not exist. If you have any questions, please contact Joseph Pixley at (202) 366-1936.
Very truly yours,
Gregory B. McBride
Deputy Chief Counsel
 According to Cubic, Texas Instruments also manufactures a multi-function reader module that accepts ISO/IEC 14443 standards.