Does PA Steel Act Prohibit Public Owner From Specifying Foreign-Made Cast Iron Boiler?

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The PA Steel Products Procurement Act requires that all steel products (including cast iron products) supplied on a Pennsylvania public works project must be made from U.S.-made steel.

Recently, a school district’s contract specified a cast iron boiler manufactured in Europe as the so-called “basis of design.” No domestic cast iron boilers were permitted under the boiler specification. Is this practice legal under the PA Steel Products Procurement Act? Can a public owner simply override the Steel Act with a proprietary specification for a name-brand product which is made outside the U.S. but which is preferred by the owner’s design team?

A protest was lodged against the school district’s contract requirement, and a domestic cast iron boiler was eventually permitted to be supplied on the project. The school district argued that the contractor could have complied with the Steel Act simply by completing the DGS Form ST-4, which is typically submitted for approval when a steel product is not domestically produced in sufficient quantities. In fact, the contractor could not have truthfully completed Form ST-4, as the “product” in question – the cast iron boiler – was domestically manufactured in sufficient quantities by other boiler manufacturers.

Is the school district’s practice common among other public entities and school districts in Pennsylvania? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I can say with near certainty that the practice is prohibited by the express terms of the Steel Act.

If you need further assistance on an issue involving the Steel Act, call or email me for a free consultation. I’ll be happy to assist in any way possible.

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Posted on by Christopher I. McCabe, Esq. in Steel Products Act Leave a comment