Posts Tagged ‘protectionism’


At least the USA isn’t the only country with idiotic procurement rules:

In the mass-transit business, purchasers want to buy the best equipment at the best price. But they face intense political pressure from the governments that finance these megaprojects to steer contracts to local companies, and workers. Bombardier – like its German, French, Spanish and Japanese rivals in the rail business – knows how to play the national card. That’s why Bombardier engineered a series of European and U.S. acquisitions in the 1980s and 1990s. And that’s why it assembles rail cars in the tiny border town of Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Within Canada, Bombardier splits rail work between its main plant in La Pocatière, Que., and a second plant nearly 2,000 kilometres away in Thunder Bay, to help secure contracts in Canada’s largest province. Alstom is building its own plant in Sorel, Que., to do the Montreal Métro work. It is the taxpayers who are paying for this needless production redundancy.

Wouldn’t it be nice if those surplus workers could be put to work instead building new track?

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Page 18 of ‘SMART’ staff recommendation on DMU vehicle procurement gives further proof that the only US jobs preserved through Buy-America are those of idiot FTA bureaucrats:

As part of the contract, two pilot cars will be built. These cars will be fully assembled and tested in Japan and, to meet Buy America requirements, will be disassembled and shipped to Rochelle for re-assembly and limited retesting.

Here we have a make-work program to build, disassemble, and then re-assemble train cars. Remember when the Soviets used to be ridiculed for this? Why would SMART go to all the trouble?

The reason might be the ill-fated Metro project in Houston, where two prototype cars were to be assembled in Spain. As reported in the Houston Chronicle:

A year-old voicemail retained by one of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s outside attorneys may hold the key to preserving the first federal light-rail funds in Houston history. The April 17, 2009, message from Scott Biehl, then the Federal Transit Administration’s acting chief counsel, to Metro attorney Ed Gill responded to Gill’s inquiry about whether “Buy America” rules would permit the assembly of two prototype rail cars in Spain if the cars were purchased with local, not federal, funds.

“Ed, you nailed it,” Biehl said in the message, which was included in Metro’s formal response Friday to the FTA’s Buy America investigation. “The answer is we don’t care.”

Based on this message and the advice of its lawyers, Metro believed the arrangement would pass muster under Buy America rules, which require that assembly of all rolling stock for federally funded projects take place in the United States, Metro chief counsel Paula Alexander said in the response letter. Metro sent the eight-page letter, along with a binder containing 32 supporting exhibits, to the FTA on Friday.

In the end, Metro lost its appeal — even though the regular fleet would have been assembled in the US. With the vehicle procurement scrapped, the project got delayed. All because of two test vehicles!

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