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Notice of Buy America Waiver

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Notice of Buy America Waiver

O. Kevin Vincent
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
April 1, 2014


[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 62 (Tuesday, April 1, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 18408-18409]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-07134]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA--2014-0029]


Notice of Buy America Waiver

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of Buy America waiver.

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SUMMARY: This Notice provides NHTSA's finding that a non-availability 
waiver of the Buy America requirements is appropriate for the purchase 
of motorcycle helmets by the Florida Department of Transportation 
(FDOT), using Federal grant funds. NHTSA has determined that a waiver 
is appropriate because there are no suitable motorcycle helmets 
produced in the United States that are designed for consumer-use.

DATES: The effective date of this waiver is May 1, 2014. Written 
comments regarding this notice may be submitted to NHTSA and must be 
received on or before: April 16, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Written comments may be submitted using any one of the 
following methods:
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, M-30, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Rm. W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.
     Fax: Written comments may be faxed to (202) 493-2251.
     Internet: To submit comments electronically, go to the 
Federal regulations Web site at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
online instructions for submitting comments.
     Hand Delivery: West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Time, 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
    Instructions: All comments submitted in relation to this waiver 
must include the agency name and docket number. Please note that all 
comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. You 
may also call the Docket at 202-366-9324.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For program issues, contact Barbara 
Sauers, Office of Regional Operations and Program Delivery, NHTSA 
(phone: 202-366-0144). For legal issues, contact Andrew DiMarsico, 
Office of Chief Counsel, NHTSA (phone: 202-366-5263). You may send mail 
to these officials at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This Notice provides NHTSA's finding that a 
waiver of the Buy America requirements, 23 U.S.C. 313, is appropriate 
for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to purchase 
consumer-use motorcycle helmets, using grant funds authorized under 23 
U.S.C. 403 (section 403). Section 403 funds are available for use by 
State Highway Safety Research and Development Activities that, among 
other things, aim to reduce injuries and deaths from motorcycle 
accidents. 23 U.S.C. 403. The Buy America Act provides that NHTSA 
``shall not obligate any funds authorized to be appropriated to carry 
out the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 (96 Stat. 2097) 
or [Title 23] and administered by the Department of Transportation, 
unless steel, iron, and manufactured products used in such project are 
produced in the United States.'' 23 U.S.C. 313. However, NHTSA may 
waive those requirements if (1) their application would be inconsistent 
with the public interest; (2) such materials and products are not 
produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available 
quantities and of a satisfactory quality; or (3) the inclusion of 
domestic material will increase the cost of the overall project 
contract by more than 25 percent. 23 U.S.C. 313(b). In this instance, 
NHTSA has determined that a waiver is appropriate for the purchase of 
the consumer-use motorcycle helmets because there is no sufficient 
product produced domestically that meets the need identified by FDOT.
    FDOT seeks a waiver to purchase motorcycle helmets for use by its 
program called ``The Demonstration to Promote Motorcycle Helmet Use.'' 
Although the State of Florida does not require motorcyclists to wear a 
helmet, Florida aims to increase helmet use through alternate efforts, 
such as raffles for helmets and exchanges that allow motorcyclists to 
receive DOT-compliant helmets for trading in non-DOT-compliant helmets. 
FDOT seeks to expend Federal grant funds to purchase motorcycle helmets 
for use during these outreach activities at motorcycle rallies and 
events. FDOT will use the motorcycle helmets to encourage participation 
in its helmet safety education programs at these events. FDOT states 
that its proposed helmet drawings and exchange program will incentivize 
the use of helmets within the segment of the motorcycle rider community 
that is suspicious of the safety benefits of helmet use.
    FDOT seeks to use these motorcycle helmets for its program because 
they are designed specifically for consumers. FDOT believes that using 
these motorcycle helmets as an incentive should encourage and increase 
the use of helmets within the motorcycling community. Florida is unable 
to identify, however, any motorcycle helmets that meet the Buy America 
Act requirements. Florida assessed the location of manufacturing for 
approximately forty helmet brands and manufacturers through phone and 
internet searches. Despite this assessment, FDOT still was unable to 
find an American made motorcycle helmet.
    NHTSA is aware of only one brand of consumer-use motorcycle helmet 
that is produced in the United States: Super Seer Corporation (Seer), a 
Colorado-based custom motorcycle helmet manufacturer. Seer primarily 
produces helmets for law enforcement. It also makes one model (Seer 
Touring Helmet) for public use. The Seer helmet is not offered to the 
general public through retail outlets. These custom motorcycle helmets 
are not mass produced, rather they are hand-made to order.\1\ Consumers 
may purchase a custom helmet through Seer's Internet Web site. Although 
these helmets are made in the United States, NHTSA believes they are 
not produced in sufficient and reasonably available quantities for 
FDOT's purposes. NHTSA is not aware of any other motorcycle helmets 
produced in the United States. Though there are other American-based 
companies in this business, they manufacture their motorcycle helmets 
overseas. NHTSA assessed approximately forty motorcycle helmet brands 
and manufacturers, including HJC, Bell, and MHR. NHTSA found that all 
the companies produce their helmets overseas, in locations such as 
China, Taiwan, and Italy. Since consumer-use motorcycle helmets are 
unavailable from an American manufacturer in reasonably available 
quantities, the Buy

[[Page 18409]]

America waiver is appropriate. NHTSA invites public comment on this 
conclusion.
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    \1\ The custom-made Seer touring helmet is much more expensive 
than other helmets that are sold in stores.
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    In light of the above discussion, and pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 
313(b)(2), NHTSA finds that it is appropriate to grant a waiver from 
the Buy America Act requirements to FDOT in order to purchase consumer-
use motorcycle helmets. This non-availability waiver applies to Florida 
and all other States seeking to use section 403 funds to purchase 
motorcycle helmets for the purposes mentioned herein. The waiver will 
continue through fiscal year 2014 and will allow the purchase of off-
the-shelf consumer motorcycle helmets required for Florida's 
demonstration motorcycle helmet program. Accordingly, this waiver will 
expire at the conclusion of fiscal year 2014 (September 30, 2014). In 
accordance with the provisions of Section 117 of the Safe, Accountable, 
Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy of Users 
Technical Corrections Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 110-244, 122 Stat. 1572), 
NHTSA is providing this notice as its finding that a waiver of the Buy 
America Act requirements is appropriate. Written comments on this 
finding may be submitted through any of the methods discussed above.

    Authority:  23 U.S.C. 313; Pub. L. 110-161.

    Issued on: March 26, 2014.
O. Kevin Vincent,
Chief Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2014-07134 Filed 3-31-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P



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