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Notice of Buy America Waiver

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Notice of Buy America Waiver

Stephen P. Wood
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
April 20, 2015


[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 75 (Monday, April 20, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 21800-21801]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-08953]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2015-0019]


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 consumer-use 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 April 30, 2015. Written 
comments regarding this notice may be submitted to NHTSA and must be 
received on or before: May 5, 2015.

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 
approximately 239 consumer-use motorcycle helmets, using grant funds 
authorized under 23 U.S.C. 402 (section 402) and 23 U.S.C. 403 (section 
403).\1\ Section 402 funds are available for use by State Highway 
Safety Programs that, among other things, aim to reduce injuries and 
deaths resulting from motorcycle accidents. 23 U.S.C. 402(a). Section 
403 funds are available for use by State Highway Safety Research and 
Development Activities including research of motorcyclist 
characteristics and safety. 23 U.S.C. 403. The Buy America provision 
states 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;

[[Page 21801]]

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.
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    \1\ In October 2014, FDOT submitted a request to waive Buy 
America for the purchase of motorcycle helmets using section 403 
funds only. This notice responds to a January 2015 waiver request 
that superseded the October 2014 request and seeks a waiver to use 
both sections 402 and 403 funds.
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    FDOT seeks a waiver to purchase motorcycle helmets for use by its 
program called ``The Demonstration to Promote Motorcycle Helmet Use,'' 
and other motorcycle safety education and injury prevention programs. 
FDOT requests to purchase a maximum of 150 helmets using Section 403 
funds and 85 helmets using Section 402 funds at a per unit cost of $100 
to $150. FDOT also plans to purchase 4 consumer-use helmets for law 
enforcement officers using Section 402 funds at an estimated cost of 
$300 each. 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 use 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, focus 
groups, and surveys 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 also seeks to use 
Federal grant funds to purchase 2 helmets for use by law enforcement 
officers on the Florida State University Police Department motorsports 
team to promote motorcycle safety and discourage illegal street racing 
and 2 helmets for use by law enforcement officers to blend in with 
other motorcyclists during law enforcement activities.
    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 
requirements. FDOT conducted phone calls and web searches but 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.\2\ 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 America waiver is appropriate. NHTSA invites public 
comment on this conclusion.
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    \2\ 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 requirements to FDOT in order to purchase approximately 
239 consumer-use motorcycle helmets. This non-availability waiver 
applies to Florida and all other States seeking to use section 402 and 
section 403 funds to purchase motorcycle helmets for the purposes 
mentioned herein. The waiver will continue through fiscal year 2015 and 
will allow the purchase of off-the-shelf consumer motorcycle helmets 
required for Florida's demonstration motorcycle helmet program and 
other motorcycle safety and research programs. Accordingly, this waiver 
will expire at the conclusion of fiscal year 2015 (September 30, 2015). 
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 requirements is appropriate. Written comments on this 
finding may be submitted through any of the methods discussed above. 
NHTSA may reconsider these findings, if through comment, it learns of 
and can confirm the existence of a comparable domestically made product 
to the items granted a waiver.
    These findings should not be construed as an endorsement or 
approval of any products by NHTSA or the U.S. Department of 
Transportation. The United States Government does not endorse products 
or manufacturers.

    Authority:  23 U.S.C. 313; Public Law 110-161.

    Issued in Washington, DC, under authority delegated in 49 CFR 
1.95.
Stephen P. Wood,
Acting Chief Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2015-08953 Filed 4-17-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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