Buy America Act

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BUY AMER. CERT (Buy America Certified) stenciled on tracks of the Sonoma–Marin Area Rail Transit system, which was partially funded with federal grants

Section 165 (49 U.S.C. § 5323(j)) of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 (commonly called the Buy America Act) is a section of the larger STAA that deals with purchases related to rail or road transportation.[1] Unlike the similarly titled Buy American Act (1933), the Buy America Act applies only to purchases related to rail or road transportation, such as the construction of highways, railways, or rapid transit systems.[2] The 1982 provisions also apply to purchases made by third-party agencies, using funds granted by agencies within the United States Department of Transportation.[3]

Transportation infrastructure projects built with iron, steel, and manufactured products must purchase materials in the United States. This applies to mass-transit related procurements valued over $150,000 and funded at least in part by federal grants. This includes highways, bridges, airports and tunnels.[4]

Canadian manufacturers, as joint signatories to NAFTA and the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), are often eligible to be considered equivalent to US manufacturers,[5] though NAFTA excluded highway and transit grants from its coverage, and while the GPA agreement obliges the governments of 37 US states to treat Canadian products as equivalent to US products, the GPA also excludes highway and transit grants that are Federally funded.

The Buy America rules are occasionally amended by the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Highway Administration.[citation needed]

According to the Associated General Contractors of Washington, elements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 conflicted with the Buy America provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, although the legislation specified that the existing Buy America requirements would extend to ARRA-funded highway and transit projects.[6]


  1. ^ "Buy America Requirements". U.S. Department of Transportation. June 19, 1986. Archived from the original on 2014-04-12. Retrieved 2014-03-05. This document amends the regulations implementing the "Buy America" provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 by specifying the actual certificates that must be submitted by each bidder to indicate compliance or non-compliance with the applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.
  2. ^ "Buy America: Application to Federal-aid Highway Construction Projects, July 9, 2002". U.S. Department of Transportation. July 9, 2002. Retrieved 2014-03-05. There are two separate and distinct domestic purchase programs that affect FHWA operations. The first program was created in 1933 as the "Buy American" policy for all direct Federal procurements; this program affects the Federal Lands highway program. The second program was created in 1982 as the "Buy America" requirements for the Federal-aid highway program. "Buy America" focuses on iron and steel products while "Buy American" affects procurement of approximately 100 products. The two programs have very different requirements and processes.
  3. ^ "A Brief History of FTA's "Buy America" Requirements". U.S. Transit Suppliers Coalition. Archived from the original on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2014-03-05. The Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 (1982 STAA) strengthened UMTA’s Buy America provision by prohibiting the obligation of UMTA-administered grant funds unless steel, cement (later deleted), and manufactured products used in the grant projects were produced in the United States. The 1982 STAA also eliminated the $500,000 threshold and permitted states to adopt more stringent Buy America requirements.
  4. ^ "Buy America Requirements U.S. GPO". Government Publishing Office. 2017-10-23.
  5. ^ "The Buy American Act and Buy America Provisions". Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. February 7, 2014. Archived from the original on May 13, 2010. Retrieved 2014-03-05. Please note that Buy America and Buy American are separate legislation and regulation requirements. Buy America applies solely to grants issued by the Federal Transit Administration and Federal Highway Administration; Buy American may be applied to all direct U.S. federal procurement.
  6. ^ Tymon Berger, Stanislaw Ashbaugh. "Executive Branch Fills in Gaps on Stimulus and Buy American". Associated General Contractors of Washington. Archived from the original on 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2014-03-05. Prior to February, when it came to buying American, federally-funded public construction projects were generally governed by two laws: the Buy American Act of 1933, as amended over the years; and the Buy America requirements derived from the 1982 Surface Transportation Assistance Act. With respect to the amended 1933 Buy American Act, that law’s “substantially”-manufactured requirement clashes with the Recovery Act’s stipulation that none of its appropriations can be used on a “public building or public work unless all of the iron, steel, and manufactured goods used in the project are produced in the United States.”

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