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Notice of Buy America Waiver for Minivans

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Notice of Buy America Waiver for Minivans

Dorval R. Carter, Jr.
Federal Transit Administration
November 27, 2013


[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 229 (Wednesday, November 27, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 71025-71026]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-28467]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration

[Docket No. FTA-2013-0027]


Notice of Buy America Waiver for Minivans

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration, DOT.

ACTION: Notice of Buy America Waiver.

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SUMMARY: In response to North Front Range Metropolitan Planning 
Organization's (NFRMPO) request for a Buy America waiver for minivans 
based upon non-availability, the Federal Transit Administration hereby 
waives its Buy America final assembly requirement for NFRMPO's 
procurement of minivans for NFRMPO's vanpool (``VanGo'') program. This 
waiver is limited to a single purchase not to exceed 25 seven-passenger 
vehicles to take place no later than December 31, 2014.

DATES: This Buy America waiver is limited to a single purchase not to 
exceed 25 seven-passenger vehicles and expires on December 31, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary J. Lee, FTA Attorney-Advisor, at 
(202) 366-0985 or mary.j.lee@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On April 23, 2013, the North Front Range 
Metropolitan Planning Organization (NFRMPO) requested a Buy America 
waiver for the procurement of minivans. In its request, NFRMPO cited a 
lack of available, Buy America-compliant seven-passenger vehicles for 
its vanpool program located in northern Colorado and requested a Buy 
America waiver for its five-year procurement program. According to 
NFRMPO, a recently issued RFP resulted in no suitable or acceptable 
bids that meet the Buy America rules. In a second letter dated May 17, 
2013, NFRMPO reiterated its request for a Buy America waiver and noted 
that the Vehicle Production Group (VPG) had ``shut down'' production of 
its Mobility Vehicle 1 (MV-1), a Buy America compliant vehicle.
    According to NFRMPO, its VanGo Vanpool Program includes 75 vans 
with routes connecting, among others, Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, 
Denver, and Boulder, Colorado; it carries more than 420 commuters daily 
at 93 percent occupancy. The vanpools in its VanGo Vanpool Program 
carry between five and eight passengers, which make the larger 
passenger vans inefficient and too costly and VPG's MV-1 too small and 
costly.
    With certain exceptions, FTA's Buy America requirements prevent FTA 
from obligating an amount that may be appropriated to carry out its 
program for a project unless ``the steel, iron, and manufactured goods 
used in the project are produced in the United States.'' 49 U.S.C. 
5323(j)(1). A manufactured product is considered produced in the United 
States if: (1) All of the manufacturing processes for the product must 
take place in the United States; and (2) All of the components of the 
product must be of U.S. origin. A component is considered of U.S. 
origin if it is manufactured in the United States, regardless of the 
origin of its subcomponents. 49 CFR 661.5(d). If, however, FTA 
determines that ``the steel, iron, and goods produced in the United 
States are not produced in a sufficient and reasonably available amount 
or are not of a satisfactory quality,'' then FTA may issue a waiver 
(non-availability waiver). 49 U.S.C. 5323(j)(2)(B); 49 CFR 661.7(c).
    On August 5, 2013, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) 
published a notice and sought comments on the North Front Range 
Metropolitan Planning Organization's (NFRMPO) Buy America waiver 
request for minivans based upon non-availability. 78 FR 47487. FTA 
received fourteen comments, including comments from the Mayor of the 
City of Loveland, the Colorado Department of Transportation, Chrysler 
Group LLC, Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association, Association 
for Commuter Transportation, vRide, and a number of anonymous 
comments.\1\ Some comments, including the letter from the City of 
Loveland's Mayor, referenced a similar Federal Highway Administration 
notice and appeared to be posted in error. Such comments were forwarded 
to the appropriate Federal agency.
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    \1\ In error, FTA cited two docket numbers in its August 5, 2013 
notice, FTA-2012-0029 and FTA-2013-0027. Therefore, FTA considered 
all comments posted to these two dockets that referenced this waiver 
request.
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    All correctly posted comments expressed support of a waiver. The 
Colorado Department of Transportation, Division of Transit and Rail, 
stated that the VanGo Vanpool Program provides a ``vital commuting 
service,'' is ``an important component in the strategy to address 
regional air quality issues,'' including the Denver and North Front 
Range Air Quality Planning regions that are in non-attainment status 
for Ozone (O2) and maintenance status for Carbon Monoxide (CO), and the 
use of minivans is critical to keeping the program ``efficient, 
affordable and effective.'' Chrysler Group LLC also supports a waiver 
and cited, among other things, the industry's need for a vehicle with 
greater seating capacity than the MV-1, and the MV-1's production 
status, which has resulted in a lack of available Buy America compliant 
vehicles. Another commenter, the Taxicab, Limousine, & Paratransit 
Association, agreed with the need for a waiver because of the 
flexibility that a minivan offers, e.g., greater seating capacity than 
an MV-1, the lack of the MV-1's performance history data, and the need 
for greater competition. Other commenters requested a broader and 
longer-lasting waiver that could be applied to other procurements or an 
expedited waiver process. Finally, a number of anonymous VanGo 
commuters posted comments in favor of a waiver.
    In response to the comments regarding NFRMPO's waiver request, many 
of the comments refer to issues that FTA addressed in its December 3, 
2012 decision, including, among other things, differences between the 
MV-1 and traditional minivans, competition, and the need for a blanket 
waiver. FTA directs interested parties to this decision, 77 FR 71673, 
for additional information. In addition, FTA notes that AM General LLC 
recently purchased rights to the MV-1 and expects to resume production 
of the MV-1 in the near term.
    However, FTA appreciates all of the comments and recognizes that 
there are certain limited circumstances when a waiver is warranted. In 
its December 3, 2012 decision to rescind the blanket Buy America waiver 
for minivans and minivan chassis on final assembly (77 FR 71673), FTA 
stated that, although it rescinded the blanket waiver, it would still 
review waiver requests for minivans and minivan chassis on a case-by-
case basis. Subsequently,

[[Page 71026]]

NFRMPO requested an individual waiver for its minivan procurement and 
FTA began reviewing the request according to its stated policy.
    Therefore, after careful consideration, and based upon the fact 
that no manufacturer has identified itself as willing and able to 
supply the seven-passenger vehicles that NFRMPO requires for its VanGo 
Vanpool Program that comply with FTA's Buy America requirements, FTA 
hereby waives its Buy America final assembly requirement of 49 CFR 
661.11 for NFRMPO's procurement. This non-availability waiver is 
limited to NFRMPO and valid for a single purchase not to exceed 25 
seven-passenger vehicles for its VanGo Vanpool Program to take place no 
later than December 31, 2014.

    Dated: November 21, 2013.
Dorval R. Carter, Jr.,
Chief Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2013-28467 Filed 11-26-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-57-P



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