Federal Transit Administration (“FTA”) grant recipients and the firms that work on the projects have a twenty years in the making, updated resource to assist them in one of the more complex areas of FTA projects. The FTA last week published its Buy America Handbook, which contains the FTA’s “best practices” for conducting pre-award and post-delivery audits for rolling stock procurements. The Handbook replaces the FTA’s 1995 handbooks for both rail vehicles and buses and is a “nonbinding guidance document” for use by grant recipients, auditors, manufacturers and suppliers.
FTA’s Buy America requirements apply to third party procurements conducted by FTA grant recipients. Those requirements, first codified in the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 and most recently set forth in the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and implementing regulations, require steel, iron and manufactured projects used in a federally funded project to be produced in the U.S. The FAST Act also required a phasing in of increased domestic content percentage requirement for rolling stock.
FTA grant recipients are required to conduct pre-award and post-delivery audits of rolling stock. Grantees must certify compliance with Buy America and the pre-award and post-delivery audit requirements as a condition to receiving FTA grant funds. The Handbook presents FTA guidance on processes for both pre-award and post-delivery Buy America audits, as well as methods of calculating domestic content. In addition, to aid the user, the Handbook includes checklists, sample certification forms, references and reports. The Handbook, together with FTA’s earlier guidance on implementing the Fast Act’s phased increase in domestic content, are valuable resources for ensuring both compliance with FTA’s Buy America requirements for rolling stock as well as uniform application of FTA’s Buy America program.