Buy American Guidelines

Shop Local! Making it Easy to Buy America

First established in the 1982 Surface Transportation Assistance Act, the Federal Buy America Guidelines identify federally-funded projects that require American-produced iron, steel, and manufactured goods.

Even without these requirements, KIRKS knows the value of sourcing American suppliers for quality and reliability. Building trusted relationships with suppliers is a critical component of ensuring quality. “Take time to do it right—or better—the first time,” means providing reliability to every customer, every time. Quality depends on making sure we have accuracy and quality in every phase of the process.

“On one project, we tried sourcing components from overseas companies. It was the ‘thing to
do to save money and stay competitive.’ However, we discovered that we had wasted time and
money when we received inferior products. It was actual garbage because it went straight to the
When we engineered the KA 500, we were intentional about working with regional suppliers.
We went to great effort to vet suppliers for reliability and quality, from raw materials to
collaborative design. Working closely with our partners means we can confidently warranty our
products. It comes at a cost, but it’s the value that keeps us competitive and secures our
reputation for quality.” – Mike Kirkman, Partner, KIRKS

The Federal Buy America Guidelines Simplified

Although the Buy America Guidelines were created to support American companies and strengthen our economy, they can also present challenges for manufacturers and project recipients.

The Buy America Guidelines aim to promote American manufacturing and economic growth, and there is some evidence that it’s working. According to a July 2019 report by the Congressional Research Service, the Buy America Guidelines have succeeded by:

  • Increasing domestic manufacturing: Since these guidelines have been implemented, evidence suggests that more railcars and buses are being produced on US soil.
  • Increasing manufacturing jobs: The Congressional Research Services report that 57,000 jobs in US manufacturing are secure because of the Buy America Standard.

Despite these benefits, the report also recognizes that the guidelines have had negative consequences, such as:

  • Increased project costs: According to the report, Buy America’s requirements for US steel increased the cost of highway construction by $2 billion between 2009 and 2011.
  • Timeline delays: Domestic supply problems or the process for applying for a waiver slow down construction or manufacturing projects, and many transportation specialists identified Buy American as the most common cause of project delay.
  • Increased administrative labor: Demonstrating compliance can be labor-intensive for project sponsors or managers as they track the origins of components or apply for waivers. Contractors must also often create multiple bids for project plans using foreign or domestic products.

These consequences can particularly impact transit authorities, who may have difficulty meeting the guidelines or documenting compliance when making large purchases, especially alternators.

Buy America Challenges for Transit Authorities

A review of Buy America Guidelines by members of the American Public Transit Association defines specific challenges that transit authorities face because of Buy America requirements.

First, when buying products, tracking the origins of various components and subcomponents can be challenging. Especially following the delays due to the imposed 2020 shutdowns, product supply chains have become more complex, and transit authorities may be unable to determine product compliance.

Second, suppliers may not be familiar with Buy America guidelines. This lack of knowledge may cause project delays as suppliers provide non-compliant products or as transit authorities work to educate suppliers about their needs.

KIRKS makes it easy to Buy America!

KIRKS didn’t need the Build America, Buy America Act to source materials and deliver domestically assembled high-output alternators and parts for the industrial and transit industries.

For transit authorities that must comply with Build America, Buy America purchase requirements, KIRKS’ products meet the Buy America guidelines.

For all your fleet, transit, and equipment needs, call KIRKS, your one source to keep your shop stocked in a single P.O. We are your partner for parts.