Who Has Buy America (Not Buy American) Compliant Cameras?

I am working with a customer on a project that has a requirement for a certain number of Buy America (not Buy American, but Buy America) compliant cameras. I would like to be able to give the a few recommendations of cameras that will fit this bill. While I work for a camera manufacturer, we don't make anything that fits the bill.

The two bills have some key differences. For a product to be fully Buy America compliant, not only does the product need to be made in the US, but all of it's components need to be made in the US, and all of the materials that make up the components need to be made in the US. This means that you need to go beyond making our cameras in a US factory. We would also need to make sure that all of the components that make up the camera are made in the US. Additionally, the materials would need to be made in the US. Screws and bolts would need to be made in the US with US manufactured steel, etc. The thermoplastic would need to be formed in a US factory, and the plastic itself would need to be formulated in a US petrochem facility from domestic oil.

With ARRA funds and Transportation Administration grants, this is becoming a big deal. Can anyone point me at a Buy America camera, or enlighten me on how Axis and Sony and the rest are getting around this?


Wait, are you saying that Axis and Sony are qualified under either of these programs?

We had a discussion similar to this a few years ago. Both Arecont and Avigilon claimed they met these requirements at leas the less stringent one (Avigilon through some NAFTA provision).

I can't see how they could qualify, but I see their cameras used in ARRA and TAA grant funded projects, which all carry a Buy America requirement, which tells me that they either found a loophole, or they are just hoping they don't get caught, or they really don't know that they're non-compliant.

Most anyone can meet Buy American, which is much easier than Buy America. You just need to do a 51% substantial transformation on the product to meet Buy American. So you ship all the boards and the bodies and the packing materials to a US facility, assemble the cameras, label the cameras, and pack them, and you can usually claim substantial transformation. You can also take advantage of trade compliant nations, such as Canada, Japan, Tuvalu, and Somalia. Buy America, on the other hand, is much more difficult.

Somalia? South Sudan? The Congo? Really? Who maintains this list? http://gsa.federalschedules.com/resource-center/resources/taa-designated-countries.aspx

I am going slightly off the subject now to answer this correctly. First of all, this is a very good question from a patriotic person's point-of-view. Why can't the customer clearly prove that he/she is a 'pure' American as well, not some sort of Eu decent with hybrid racial genes? Possible? I don't think so! This is probably the most absurd post of all times on this forum. By the way, the person who asked this should know we are in 21st century now, not 1st to not think global.

I think this is a legitimate question, simply because he is asking about conformance to a US law. The discussion here is NOT whether the law is a good one but what companies meet the requirements of this law and how they do so.

Every Libertarian fiber of my being agrees with you. Unfortunately, if you want to get ARRA funds or TAA grants, you better be compliant!

Ummmmmm.... What?

He said "protectionism simply doesn't make sense in this age of globalization".

Ah! Thank you for the translation.

Not being familiar with the law but familiar with electronic components I have to assume there is some loophole allowing non-U.S.-manufactured components where no U.S.-manufactured components are available. There are many electronic components that are not manufactured in the U.S. period and have no possible substitutes. This would include most Integrated Circuits and sensors.

Just as I thought. Here are the relavent provisions of the Buy America Act

25.103 Exceptions.

When one of the following exceptions applies, the contracting officer may acquire a foreign end product without regard to the restrictions of the Buy American Act:

  1. (a) Public interest. The head of the agency may make a determination that domestic preference would be inconsistent with the public interest. This exception applies when an agency has an agreement with a foreign government that provides a blanket exception to the Buy American Act.
  2. (b) Nonavailability. The Buy American Act does not apply with respect to articles, materials, or supplies if articles, materials, or supplies of the class or kind to be acquired, either as end items or components, are not mined, produced, or manufactured in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available commercial quantities and of a satisfactory quality.
  • (1) Class determinations.
  • (i) A nonavailability determination has been made for the articles listed in 25.104. This determination does not necessarily mean that there is no domestic source for the listed items, but that domestic sources can only meet 50 percent or less of total U.S. Government and nongovernment demand.

See, this is where things get confusing. The text you provided is from the Buy American Act, not the Buy America Act. This is why I'm pulling my hair out!!!

Oddly enough, Fastenall has a good little writeup on the differences....

http://www.fastenal.com/content/pdfs/buy_american.pdf

Gentlemen,

A cursory examination of the Buy America statute, section 661.5 (c) reveals that:

The steel and iron requirements apply to all construction materials made primarily of steel or iron and used in infrastructure projects such as transit or maintenance facilities, rail lines, and bridges. These items include, but are not limited to, structural steel or iron, steel or iron beams and columns, running rail and contact rail. These requirements do not apply to steel or iron used as components or subcomponents of other manufactured products or rolling stock, or to bimetallic power rail incorporating steel or iron components.

Furthermore section 661.5 (d,2) states:

(2) All of the components of the product must be of U.S. origin. A component is considered of U.S. origin if it is manufactured in the United States, regardless of the origin of its subcomponents.

Seems like plenty of wiggle room to me...

Where's the confusion?

Folks, Arecont Vision cameras are assembled in Glendale Calfornia. Having said this no matter if the components come from China, Taiwan, Korea or where ever, as long as they have more than 51% of the overall product cost developed in the US they qualify for being made in America. Take into consideration develpment cost and Intelectual properties of the camera these costs are what normally take you over the 51% value added to achieve the made in America brand. I travel the world and people ask me Arecont's cameras are made in Taiwan right? I have to laugh at how un educated our industry is about where products are actually made. John you have been to Arecont's building you can verify that they are built in Glendale California.

Undisclosed,

Why remain undisclosed if it is obvious who you work for? We're not stupid!

Carl, I don't work for Arecont and I agree you are not stupid.

I travel the world and people ask me Arecont's cameras are made in Taiwan right?

I travel the world and the seven seas myself regularly and have yet to be asked where Arecont's cameras are manufactured ;)

Clearly the assumption that Arecont is your employer would a reasonable one based on your post. Did that really not occur to you that it would be seen that way, especially since it was sent undisclosed?

Ok, everyone, deep breadth!

Since Arecont was already being discussed here, his comment is not promotional, even if he was Arecont's CEO.

That said, I can still see why one would dispute the definition of 'made' if most or all the components were 'made' outside the US.

We're talking about two different acts. The Buy American Act was created in the past 20 years, and it allows for 51% compliance and has a list of approved compliant countries for manufacture. I've got that one nailed. The problem I have is the Buy America Act, which was created in the late 1920s. Buy America has no allowance for 51% compliance or TAA partner countries. Buy America requires taht 100% of your product be manufactured in the US, all the way down to the component and material level. It was originally created to address concrete and drywall and rebar, but ARRA has grown it in to a monster.

I will say, your post has been quite enlightening in a way. Obviously, Arecont has no idea that the act even exists, and is probably ignorant of their non-compliance!

It's been a number of years since I have been to Arecont's building (and assuredly since I have since been banned :)

As you say, my understanding is that they are assembled in California.

This was a very interesting comment:

"Take into consideration development cost and Intelectual properties of the camera these costs are what normally take you over the 51% value added to achieve the made in America brand."

My impression had been that it was the cost of the material goods that was factored in but if overhead and development costs are included as well, I can see why it would be justified as meeting that 51%.

Of course, there is the other 'But America' act that appears to be even more stringent. I am still, though, confused about the two, considering they have the same names, except for the last letter.

Just to clarify- a 100% American designed, assembled, built, sourced, mined, etc, camera doesn't actually exist, right?

Maybe this was an isolated instance, but several years ago (for the national Social Security Offices competitive bid) cameras were deemed as exempt because they were considered to be COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) hardware.

Apart from camera's. Don't you run into the same problem with monitors ? I thought that now-a-days all the components for them are all made in Asia ?

Eyez-On Camera: Over 50% made in US. What is your application?

Charles, can you explain how your camera is over 50% made in the US? I doubt don't you specifically, I have trouble believing any manufacturer makes surveillance cameras in the US. It would seem all the parts come from outside the US and any companies 'manufacturing' would just be assembling. Can you shed any light on this?

Last I looked at a map, Texas is still formally a member of the United States. But we are working to change that.

We manufacture, in Texas, 2 of the major componet boards in the Eyz-on Camera Video Recorder (CVR). The camera portion is less than 30% of the whole product and is Asian sourced. The processer chip is manufactured at Texas Instruments which is conviently located on the same street as my office in Dallas. The com board with the three channel switch is manufactured in Texas also. Final assembly and packaging is done here in Texas.

Camera Video Recorder Assembly (CVR)

Do all y'all got a showroom in Big D?

We call it "The No Bull Zone." Salesmen caught lying in there get their lips ripped off and are thrown into the middle of Forest Lane.

Transit Surveillance.

It appears to me that you may also be unaware of the "Buy America" Act. As I stated in my original question:

"For a product to be fully Buy America compliant, not only does the product need to be made in the US, but all of it's components need to be made in the US, and all of the materials that make up the components need to be made in the US. This means that you need to go beyond making our cameras in a US factory. We would also need to make sure that all of the components that make up the camera are made in the US. Additionally, the materials would need to be made in the US. Screws and bolts would need to be made in the US with US manufactured steel, etc. The thermoplastic would need to be formed in a US factory, and the plastic itself would need to be formulated in a US petrochem facility from domestic oil. "

There is no allowance for 51% compliance. You are confusing the "Buy America Act" with the "Buy American Act". "Buy American" allows for 51% compliance and signifigant transformation. "Buy America" does not.

As I stated in my original question:

"For a product to be fully Buy America compliant, not only does the product need to be made in the US, but all of it's components need to be made in the US, and all of the materials that make up the components need to be made in the US. This means that you need to go beyond making our cameras in a US factory. We would also need to make sure that all of the components that make up the camera are made in the US. Additionally, the materials would need to be made in the US. Screws and bolts would need to be made in the US with US manufactured steel, etc. The thermoplastic would need to be formed in a US factory, and the plastic itself would need to be formulated in a US petrochem facility from domestic oil. "

Sir, you did indeed state that, but again as I have stated above, the actual statute does not mandate such drastic measures across the board, to wit:

Buy America statute, Section 661.5 (c)

The steel and iron requirements apply to all construction materials made primarily of steel or iron and used in infrastructure projects such as transit or maintenance facilities, rail lines, and bridges. These items include, but are not limited to, structural steel or iron, steel or iron beams and columns, running rail and contact rail. These requirements do not apply to steel or iron used as components or subcomponents of other manufactured products or rolling stock, or to bimetallic power rail incorporating steel or iron components.

furthermore Section 661.5 (d,2) states:

(2) All of the components of the product must be of U.S. origin. A component is considered of U.S. origin if it is manufactured in the United States, regardless of the origin of its subcomponents.

Your refusal to engage directly with these statutes is perplexing as its seems to cut to the heart of the matter, which was how are your competitors in compliance with the Buy America statute as you understand it.

If this was really just a rant, then say so, I find it often helps to blow off steam myself. :)

Pelco has recently made this claim and evidently documented it with a local county agency which removed our competitive initiative within that agency. COTS must have some effect as that is what we have used when promoting a Japanese trade compliant product manufacturer.

Just noticed that Dotworkz is very smug about their Buy American compliance, even claiming to have American built NVRs.

Good find, strong claim: "100% made-in-the-USA"

Related, all of their DomeWizard party girls are born in America...

My final 2¢ worth:

I'm not going to debate Buy America versus Buy American but what I will make a final comment on is the notion expressed in the following quote: "For a product to be fully Buy America compliant, not only does the product need to be made in the US, but all of it's components need to be made in the US, and all of the materials that make up the components need to be made in the US."

Sir or Madam, you are asking for the electronic equivalent of unobtainium. There are just way too many components of a modern surveillance system that are not manufactured in the good ol' U.S.A. that your quest is impossible. I say again, even if the products are assembled here, there is zero chance of obtaining all of the components from U.S. sources. Semiconductors, capacitors, resistors, chokes and the like may or may not be manufactured in the U.S. but to build surveillance equipment, you need specific suitable components, many of which are not.

And even if the components happen to be actually manufactured in the U.S., they will almost certainly contain materials that are mined and/or processed outside of the U.S.. Take rare earths, used in semiconducter and other component manufacturing. Many of those materials come from overseas. Take a look at rare earths like gallium arsenide (GaAs) and germanium. China has been quietly obtaining a stranglehold on these materials.

For recording the video, you would need some form of storage. There are no hard disks nor, to my knowledge, SSD drives or even magnetic tape products manufactured in the U.S. That's none, as in Zero! Zip! NADA!

I believe that also applies to LCD panels, image sensors, etc.

So anyway, good luck on your fruitless quest.

Fruitless? Really?

Simply purchase a milla-mole or two of good ol' American Atoms, (American Molecules allowed if made from AA), get a 3d electronics printer and Voila! Full compliance with the OP, ahem, interpretation of the statute.

3D printers capable of printing nanometer chips?

Charles,

70% does not equal 100%. And although the processor chip is made by TI, can you confirm it's made in Texas of all U.S. materials? Can you confirm the country of manufacture of all capacitors, resistors, diodes, transistors, chokes and any other components?

Carl, What your beef with Charles?

From what imma reading them there subcomponents can be made anywhere perchance and still be hunky-dory with them folk over at Buy America.

Don't rightly know if they be whole hog 'compliant' altogether, but where them diodes are made ain't stopping them nohow.

No beef, other than possibly with their reading comprehension. The OP has repeatedly insisted that "not only does the product need to be made in the US, but all of it's components need to be made in the US, and all of the materials that make up the components need to be made in the US."

I contend that is impossible for a number of reasons, among which are that many components are not made in the U.S. at all and even those that are manufactured in the U.S. may contain raw materials that come from outside sources.

Unlike many here, my training is as an Electronics Engineer and my background is consumer electronics so I believe I am more familiar with parts sourcing than most in this field. Because of that, I am well aware of what is and what isn't manufactured in the U.S. and where the materials come from.

Sir, you are correct, it would be well nigh impossible to meet the OP's stated rendering of the Buy America provision for anything but the most trivial of items.

IMO this was an over-reaction to some of the language used in the provision which at first glance (and second) might seem draconian.

More exceptions:

Q. Is there an existing public interest waiver to purchase nuts, bolts, and/or screws?

A. Only the Federal Highway Administration has an existing nuts-and-bolts waiver (see the "Costs of Foreign Steel" provision here: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/programadmin/contracts/070689.cfm. FTA, however, has no similar provision. If, however, nuts, bolts, and screws are only items the grantee is directly procuring, the contract is not likely to exceed $100,000, and therefore would be covered under the small purchase waiver at 49 CFR 661.7, Appendix A, paragraph (c): see, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2010-title49-vol7/pdf/CFR-2010-title49-vol7-sec661-7.pdf. If, on the other hand, the nuts, bolts, and screws have been incorporated into the manufacturing of component, it is the manufactured component that would have to be manufactured in the United States and the nuts, bolts, or screws could come from any source, foreign or domestic.

But if the nuts, bolts, or screws comprise the structural elements of a building or facility (e.g., anchor bolts), they could be categorized as structural steel or iron (see FHWA's guidance memo at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction/contracts/121221.cfm) and therefore subject to FTA's Buy America requirements for steel and iron products in 49 CFR 661.5(b) and (c): http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2010-title49-vol7/pdf/CFR-2010-title49-vol7-sec661-5.pdf (Posted: October, 2013)

Until the OP responds with new information I move to adjourn.

Well, I finally did peruse the 1983 "Buy America Act" and would agree that the OP's interpretation of the act is in error. As stated in §661.5 General requirements, "All of the components of the product must be of U.S. origin. A component is considered of U.S. origin if it is manufactured in the United States, regardless of the origin of its subcomponents.".

If the OP insists on interpreting that to mean that 100% of the subcomponents and materials used to assemble a camera in the U.S. must also come from the U.S., perhaps he/she should abstain from bidding on the project. It is not worth the trouble trying to find a nonexistent product.

On a side note, the U.S. used to be the largest producer of electronic components and equipment in the world. That started to change in the 60's as production moved first to Japan, then to other third world countries. The advent of robotic manufacturing accelerated the process since production required less and less skilled labor.

The US Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the agency behind the Buy America contacted us today about this discussion. They said they have been dealing with confused questions / statements from industry people.

Here's what they tell me:

  • The 'component' is the camera. The parts of the camera (lens, imager, power supply, etc.) are the 'subcomponents'
  • A camera can still qualify even if all the subcomponents are made outside the USA. What has to be done inside the USA is the 'manufacturing' / combination / assembly of those subcomponents. You may disagree with this philosophically but that was direct from the FTA.
  • It is possible to challenge people making cameras in their basement based on quality issues. For example, the FTA might check / disqualify if the 'manufacturing' lacks sufficient electronic testing / shock testing / weatherproofing.
  • FTA says Canadian companies are excluded from the FTA's Buy America. Sorry Avigilon.
  • Non 'USA' made products can be exempted if they can prove that the quantity or quality of made in the USA products is insufficient.

FTA said their understanding that the other act (Buy America) had a similar definition of manufacturing (i.e., the subcomponents inside a camera do not need to made in the USA to qualify).

Hope this helps.

NOTICE: This comment has been moved to its own discussion: US Federal Transit Administration Explains 'Buy America' Act To IPVM

Scallop Imaging manufacturers all of our camerasin Boston.

Howdy Steven! For manfacturing are y'all soldering or just screwing?

Hi Jim,

Scallop Imaging's technology has been and continues to be developed from the ground up in Boston, Massachusetts. All hardware and software is conceived, developed and ultimately turned into products in the United States. While some of our components may be sourced internationally, our electronics are designed locally and the printed circuit boards are populated and soldered in New Hampshire. All planning, procurement, logistics, inventory management, production, calibration and testing is performed in our own facility in Boston, Massachusetts. We have chosen to manufacture our products in the United States to maintain the high quality and extremely low failure rate Scallop's products are known for. Moreover, close proximity between product development and manufacturing provide efficiencies and valuable input into new product enhancements, our research and development. While others may use the "Made in the USA" label when two parts are finally assembled or put in a box Stateside, Scallop can proudly say that our products are Made in America!

Steve