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Frequently Asked Questions

The following summary is not a full and complete recitation of every requirement. It is an attempt to capture in broad terms the nature and scope of the requirements. It has been prepared in an effort to highlight key elements of each subsection in an abbreviated format, not replace them.

Please note that the FAQs are organized into three distinct sections: (A) Act 3    (B) Buy America    (C) Both: Act 3 & Buy America

 

ACT 3 - FAQ Section 

A1: What is Act 3-1978?

Act 3-1978 (Act) is the Steel Products Procurement Act. 

A2: What does the Act require?

The Act requires purchasing agencies to include a required contract provision in every contract for the construction, alteration, repair, improvement, or maintenance of a Public Works, regardless of the source of the funding. 

A3: What are "Public Works"?

Public Works include, but are not limited to, structures, buildings, highways, waterways, streets, bridges, transit systems, airports, railway, street railway, subway, elevated and monorail passenger or passenger and rail rolling stock, self-propelled cars, gallery cars, locomotives, passenger buses, wires, poles, and equipment for electrification of a transit system, rails, tracks, roadbeds, guideways, elevated structures, stations, terminals, docks, shelters, or other betterment, work or improvement, including repairs to any of the foregoing, whether of a permanent or temporary nature and whether for governmental or proprietary use. 

A4: What contract provision does the Act require?

If any steel products are to be used or supplied in the performance of the contract, only steel products, as defined in the Act can be used or supplied in the performance of the contract or any subcontracts thereunder. 

​A5: What is a steel product?

Steel products are products rolled, formed, shaped, drawn, extruded, forged, cast, fabricated, otherwise similarly processed, or processed by a combination of two or more of these operations from steel made in the United States. This includes:

  1. Cast iron products; and

  2. Machinery and equipment listed in United States Department of Commerce Standard Industrial Classification 25 (furniture and fixture), 35 (machinery, except electrical), and 37 (transportation equipment) and made of, fabricated from, or containing steel components. 

A6: What information must a contractor submit when steel products are supplied under a contract?

  • Identifiable Steel – Steel products that contain the Department approved permanent marking (MM-USA) that identifies that the material was melted and manufactured in the US.  Written approval must be granted by the Department before the MM-USA marking may be applied by a manufacturer to its steel product.  Department approved ‘identifiable’ steel products (MM-USA) are referenced in Bulletin 15.  Form CS-4171 (PDF) must be provided to the Department project inspection staff.
  • Steel Products with In-Plant Inspection – Fabricated structural steel or precast & prestressed concrete products that received Department in-plant inspection and inspection stamp.  Form CS-4171 (PDF) must be provided to the Department project inspection staff.
  • Unidentified Steel – Steel that is not defined in the two categories above.  Invoices, bills of lading and mill test reports that positively identify that the steel was melted and manufactured in the United States, along with Form CS-4171 (PDF), Certificate of Compliance must be provided to the Department project inspection staff. 

A7: Does the Department provide a certification form?

Yes. Form CS 4171 (PDF), Certificate of Compliance, is used to certify that Bulletin materials meet the required specifications.  Specifically, Item# 6 on Form CS-4171 (PDF) is used to certify that a product containing iron or steel conforms to Section 106.01 of Publication 408 (PDF), which details the Act 3 requirements. 

A8: Does the Act cover steel products that will not be permanently incorporated into the project, such as tools, scaffolding, and trailers that are removed after completion of the project?

No

A9: Does the Act permit the use of a product that contains 100 percent U.S. manufactured steel if the non-steel components of the product are not manufactured in the U.S?

Yes 

A10: Does the Act permit the use of a product that contains 100 percent foreign manufactured steel?

No 

A11: Does the Act permit the use of a product that contains both foreign and U.S. manufactured steel?

The Act permits the use of a product that contains both foreign and U.S. manufactured steel only if the cost of the foreign steel does not exceed 25 percent of the combined cost of both the foreign and U.S. steel. 

A12: Must a contractor submit additional documentation to use a steel product that contains both foreign steel and United States steel?

​Yes.  Receipts verifying the cost of the foreign steel and the domestic steel must be supplied with the product certification documentation. 

A13: May a contractor receive a waiver to use a steel product that does not comply with the Act?

Only under very limited circumstances.  In order to receive a waiver, the contractor must prove to the Department that the steel product is not produced from steel melted and manufactured in the U.S. in sufficient quantities to meet the contract requirements.  

A14: How do I receive a waiver from the Act’s requirements?

You must provide documentation to the Department’s project staff describing the effort that you made to comply with Act 3.  The documentation must include contact information for the companies/individuals that you contacted.  Department staff will submit the documentation to the Secretary, who will decide if a waiver is warranted. 

A15: Is there a list of products that have received a waiver from the Act’s requirements?

Yes.  The Department of General Services maintains a list of products that have received a waiver from Act 3.  The list can be found at:

http://www.dgs.pa.gov/Businesses/Design-and-Construction/Steel-Products-Act-Exemptions/Documents/2016 Exemption List 03 29 2016.pdf

However, the waiver does not automatically apply to products that are also listed in PennDOT’s Publication 35, Bulletin 15.  In instances where a product is listed in both the DGS website and Bulletin 15, you must use the Bulletin 15 product or request a clarification through the Department’s Q&A process by using the following email link: US Steel Product Questions. 

A16: Do the Act’s requirements apply to incorporated railroad work?

Yes 

A17: Do the Act’s requirements apply to unincorporated railroad work?

The Act’s requirements apply to unincorporated railroad work that is covered by a PennDOT reimbursement agreement.  However, the railroad shall maintain documentation showing compliance, subject to audit. 

A18: Do the Act’s requirements apply to incorporated utility work?

Yes 

A19: Do the Act’s requirements apply to unincorporated utility work?

The Act’s requirements apply to unincorporated utility work that is covered by a PennDOT reimbursement agreement. However, the utility shall maintain documentation showing compliance, subject to audit.

 

Buy America - FAQ Section 

B1: To what projects does Buy America apply?

​Buy America applies to highway construction projects that are partially or totally financed with Federal funds. In addition, Buy America applies to any project that is eligible for assistance under FHWA’s Title 23 National Environmental Policy Act, regardless of the funding source, i.e., whether Federal funds are used or not.  Where multiple projects are covered under a NEPA document, Buy America applies to all contracts covered under the scope of the document.  

B2: What does Buy America require?

Buy America requires that all manufacturing processes of steel or iron materials that are permanently incorporated into a project, including coatings, occur within the United States. 

B3: Do Buy America’s requirements apply to recycled steel?

No 

B4: Do Buy America Requirements apply to nuts, bolts, washers, and other miscellaneous hardware?

Yes.  With the cancellation of FHWA’s December 21, 2012 memo, these types of steel hardware are now subject to Buy America requirements. 

B5: What information must a contractor submit when a steel or iron product is supplied to a project?

Buy America requires the same documentation as the PA Steel Procurement Act. Refer to FAQ# A6.  

B6: Does Buy America permit the use of foreign steel or iron materials?

Sometimes. Buy America has a minimal use provision. Foreign steel and iron materials may be used, provided the aggregate cost of the products, as they are delivered to the project, do not exceed 0.1% of the total contract amount, or $2,500, whichever is greater. 

B7: Must a contractor submit additional documentation to use foreign steel or iron materials?

Yes.  You must provide documentation to the Department’s inspection staff describing the steel or iron products that are made of foreign steel and their value in the form of receipts or invoices.

B8: May I receive a waiver from Buy America’s requirements?

Yes.  A waiver from Buy America’s requirements may be requested on a project by project basis where steel or iron products are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities which are of satisfactory quality. 

B9: How do I receive a waiver from Buy America’s requirements?

You must provide documentation to the Department’s project staff describing the effort that you made to comply with Buy America’s requirements.  The documentation must include contact information for the companies/individuals that you contacted.  Department staff will submit the waiver request and supporting documentation to FHWA. 

B10: Do Buy America’s requirements apply to incorporated railroad work?

Yes 

B11: Do Buy America’s requirements apply to unincorporated railroad work?

Buy America’s requirements apply to unincorporated railroad work that is covered by a PennDOT reimbursement agreement.  However, the railroad shall maintain documentation showing compliance, subject to audit. 

B12: Do Buy America’s requirements apply to incorporated utility work?

Yes 

B13: Do Buy America’s requirements apply to unincorporated utility work?

Buy America’s requirements apply to unincorporated utility work that is covered by a PennDOT reimbursement agreement.  However, the utility shall maintain documentation showing compliance, subject to audit. 

B14: Where can I find additional information about Buy America?

You can find additional information about Buy America at Buy America Information.

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction/cqit/buyam.cfm  

 

Both ACT 3 and Buy America - FAQ Section 

C1: Can the requirements of both the Act and Buy America apply on the same project? 

Yes. The requirements of both apply on all projects covered by Buy America.  

C2: I own a precast plant and have made a significant investment in wire tie guns to avoid worker injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.  There are no domestic suppliers of the wire used in this equipment.  I view this as a construction aid because the wire tie is only needed to secure the reinforcing bars until the concrete cures.  Am I permitted to use the foreign wire and my wire guns? 

Foreign steel can be incorporated into projects subject to Buy America’s requirements provided the total amount of foreign steel doesn’t exceed the permitted amount.  Receipts to verify the dollar value of the foreign steel must be submitted.  The Act allows for products such as precast products that contain both foreign and domestic steel to be accepted provided the value of the foreign steel (in this case the wire ties) does not exceed 25% of the cost of the foreign steel and domestic steel (i.e., reinforcing steel) combined.  Receipts to verify the cost of the foreign steel and domestic steel in the precast concrete product(s) must be supplied to the project with the certification documentation.  

C3: I am supplying road side signs on a multi-county project.  There is a specialty ‘corner’ bolt shown on the Department’s TC standards used at splice locations.  Can the ‘sign’ which encompasses the post and hardware be considered a product and the foreign corner bolt which is less than 25% of the cost of the foreign and domestic steel combined be accepted? 

Yes, to comply with the Act’s requirements.  However, if the project is required to meet Buy America’s requirements as well, and the total value of these corner bolts would exceed the greater of 0.1% of the contract value or $2,500.00, the material cannot be accepted without a Federal waiver.  

C4: We have a Canadian company that distributes into the United States.  Our products are coil ties, coil rod and bridge hangers.  While the steel is domestic, some processing such as threading of the coil rod, welding struts to the coil ties and some galvanizing occurs in Canada.  We are going to apply as ‘unidentified steel’ but can provide mill certs for the steel.  Do you see any issues with us applying for approval?  

Your processing and coating (galvanizing) operations prohibit you from meeting Buy America’s requirements, as all manufacturing processes including coating must occur within the United States.  
Refer to http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/programadmin/contracts/070689.cfm for more information.

On a project that is not required to meet Buy America the material would comply with the Act and could be approved and used.  

C5: We have a pre-bid question with regards to Domestic Steel for temporary bridges. The Special Provision indicates that “Temporary Bridges must meet ACT 3”. These temporary bridges are for contractor access only.  Some contractors may have their own temporary bridges “In Stock” and choose them by their “Means and Methods”.  Will these temporary bridges be required to meet ACT 3? 

The temporary bridge must comply with Pennsylvania’s Steel Products Procurement Act.  A temporary steel bridges is a public works in its own right.  Therefore, all steel used to construct a temporary bridge must comply with the Act.  

C6: Is steel documentation required for bolt thru tubes that will be permanently encased in the pier stem of a bridge? 

This is a temporary component used for our falsework and subsequently filled w/ grout. Steel that is permanently incorporated into a project must comply with the PA Steel Act and Buy America.  The requirement is set forth in 106.01 and 106.10(a) of Publication 408 (PDF).  

C7: The District project for the repair of loose anchorage cable wires requires cutting, tensioning, and splicing each wire with ferrules. The contractor is indicating they can only find one manufacturer of the steel turnbuckle used to connect existing and new strand and that the steel is not domestic (England). The District has determined that the cost of the foreign steel is less than the minimal use threshold (0.1% of the total contract amount or $2500 whichever is greater) for Buy America. To determine compliance with Act 3, can the turnbuckle and strand be considered together as a ‘system’ or in terms of Section 106, the ‘product’?

Yes.  The Office of Chief Counsel determined that the turnbuckle and strand can be considered together as a ‘system’ or in terms of Section 106, the 'product’.  As noted on page 2 of both special provisions, the “wire assembly” consists of both the ferrule and new cable.