The Buy America Act requires U.S. transportation projects built with iron, steel, and manufactured products to purchase materials in the United States.
In recent years the Transportation Research Board has prepared legal research digest summarizing Buy America requirements for several agencies of the United States Department of Transportation¾the Federal Transit Administration (TCRP LRD 49), the Federal Aviation Administration (ACRP LRD18), and the Federal Railroad Administration (NCRRP LRD 1). This digest addresses Buy America requirements applicable to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). These provisions are codified at 23 U.S.C. §313, with implementing regulations at 23 C.F.R. 23 C.F.R. § 635.410.
Having a focus more limited than other U.S.DOT agencies, the FHWA Buy America provisions apply only to steel and iron products and production. However, Congress has authorized FHWA to grant waivers to address public interest, nonavailability, price differentials, and minimal use of foreign products. This digest summarizes the procedure that FHWA has implemented for granting such waivers and the impact that court interpretation of such waivers has had on the industry in such cases as United Steel, Paper & Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial & Service Workers International Union v. Federal Highway Administration and Wampler v. Goldschmidt. It also discusses the effect of recent Executive Orders that require federal agencies to minimize the use of waivers from Buy America requirements. It also examines state highway transportation Buy America requirements and how they relate to the federal requirements.
This digest should relieve uncertainty regarding FHWA Buy America requirements not only for transportation related manufactured products generally, but also for vehicle and boat purchases and utility relocations.
This digest should prove most informative and useful to both state and federal highway administrators, industry professionals, contractors, educators, and students. FHWA grant recipients, particularly, may benefit by examining FHWA rationale for the approval or denial of project-specific waiver requests set forth in this digest.
Status: Completed. Published as NCHRP Legal Research Digest 80 available here.