February 20, 2024   

Trade Groups Appeal for Buy America Clarity

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“American-made LED lighting on roadways does not exist and will not exist for the foreseeable future.”


Stringent Buy America requirements could impede infrastructure construction, according to warnings from various groups representing construction professionals facing difficulties in sourcing BABA-compliant materials such as LED lighting, electrical switchgear, generators, and other construction materials.

A coalition of national trade associations, representing a wide spectrum of government entities and businesses across the United States, has petitioned the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for revised implementation guidance on the Build America, Buy America Act (BABA). The coalition, which includes organizations like the Associated General Contractors of America and the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, supports the core purpose of BABA but expresses concern over the challenges posed by its current implementation.

They argue that the regulatory uncertainty and stringent requirements have led to higher costs, delays in infrastructure projects, and a disincentive for firms, especially small and disadvantaged businesses, to participate in federally funded projects.


The coalition's petition, addressed to OMB Director Shalanda D. Young, requests a more data-driven and deliberative approach to BABA implementation, emphasizing the need for clarity and flexibility to ensure the successful delivery of infrastructure projects. They highlight the importance of domestic manufacturing while also pointing out the necessity of considering the current market adjustments and supply chain issues.

The group urges the OMB to issue amended guidance that prioritizes both domestic manufacturing and the efficient, cost-effective completion of infrastructure projects, warning that failure to address these concerns could undermine the goals of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.


Testimony highlights LED roadway lighting 

Ty Edmondson, CEO of Goldsboro, North Carolina-based contractor T.A. Loving Co. and chair of the Association General Contractors' Utility Infrastructure Division, testified last week before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on the implementation of BABA. Transportation officials, industry representatives, and union members also shared their insights.

Edmondson’s testimony highlighted noteable viewpoints related to LED roadway lighting.


Above: Excerpt from Edmondson's testimony to a United States House of Representatives subcommittee

Edmondson's arguments may cause lighting industry stakeholders to note that BABA FAR 25.101(a)(2) mandates the cost of domestic components in BABA-compliant products to exceed 65% for items delivered from 2024 to 2028. For items delivered from 2029 onward, this requirement rises to 75%.  Many U.S. manufacturers are producing LED Lighting products that reportedly meet the domestic component thresholds as defined by BABA.


Furthermore, the groups mentioned in the petition are urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to meticulously ensure the public is informed about the specifics of BABA's implementation, create a comprehensive database of construction materials and products that comply with BABA, and implement an extensive training program at no cost, among other enhancements.