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Government Contracting/BAA and Products Manufactured in Japan


QUESTION: I work in the US office for a Japanese Company. We manufacture and sell gas turbine driven generator packages, and are currently bidding for two projects for the Veterans Administration here in the US, and the commercial contracts specify BAA. For these particular packages, only the gas turbines/gearboxes will be manufactured in Japan and then shipped to our packaging facility in Oklahoma, where they will be integrated into "packages" including the electrical generator, support systems and the package base and enclosure, all of which is manufactured in the USA, and the labor is also all US based. The packages are also designed and engineered in the US. The price of the gas turbine/gearbox is approx 25% of the whole package price. Based on this, I have two questions:
1 - Do we qualify and meet the requirements of the BAA based on content and price ?
2 - In this case, is Japan a country that is exempted from the BAA ?

ANSWER: Hi Alun,

The VA generally targets its procurements with minimal to no deviations from the BAA, especially if the contract is designated to Veteran owned contractors. You have to study the exact language used with respect to these designations and seek any clarifications from the COR.

The law implementing the U.S. Government’s preference for domestic products is known as the Buy American Act (“BAA”).   The BAA, however, is not always applicable due to the Trade Agreements Act (“TAA”).  The TAA allows for the procurement of products from certain countries other than the  United States  .  Understanding whether the BAA or TAA applies to your procurement, and whether your products are compliant with the applicable standard is crucial to avoid liability under the False Claims Act and termination of a contract award.

The BAA applies to supply contracts exceeding the $2,500 micro-purchase threshold, but that are below the TAA threshold (currently at $193,000).  To be BAA compliant, the product provided must qualify as a domestic end product.  A domestic end product is (1) an unmanufactured end product mined or produced in the  U.S. ; or (2) an end product manufactured in the  U.S. if the cost of components mined, produced or manufactured in the  U.S.  exceeds 50 percent.  Unlike the TAA, if a product is not BAA compliant the product may still be purchased by the U.S. Government, again certain agencies like VA maintain stricter interpretations.  A non-BAA compliant product is penalized by adding 6% or 12% (depending on whether small or large businesses are involved) to its price for comparison to BAA compliant products offered by competitors.  Note, in addition to domestic end products, DoD procurements allow the use of products from “Qualifying Countries” without a pricing penalty.  A list of “Qualifying Countries” for DoD procurements can be found at DFARS 225.872-1.   For DoD procurements, if the product is neither a U.S. domestic end product or Qualifying Country end product, then it will be assessed a 50% price penalty.

In general, the TAA applies to U.S. Government acquisitions over a certain dollar threshold, generally $193,000 for the acquisitions of supplies or services, although some individual Free Trade Agreements (e.g.,  Canada ,  Mexico ,  Chile , and  Australia  ) apply lower thresholds.  The TAA provides that the U.S. Government may acquire only U.S.-made or designated country end products.  A list of designated countries can be found at FAR 25.003.  The TAA does not use the 50% cost-of-components test like the BAA.  Instead, the TAA employs a different country of origin test, called the “substantial transformation” test.  The determination of whether there has been substantial transformation for TAA purposes is not based primarily on the value or percentage of U.S. (or designated country) content (components), but on whether the product has been given a different character or use as a result of the process it underwent in the U.S. (or designated country).    

Determination of the TAA threshold varies by agency.  Some agencies apply the determination of whether the BAA or TAA applies (i.e. whether the $193,000 threshold is met to apply the TAA) on an overall contract basis, while others apply it on a line item basis.  As such, it is not unusual to have a procurement where both the BAA and TAA will apply based on the expected dollar value of each line item.  

Determining the country of origin for BAA and TAA purposes can present complex issues of interpretation and application that must be considered on a case-by-case basis, based on determinations of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (“Customs”).  Companies that fail to accurately identify whether their products are compliant or non-compliant with the BAA or TAA requirements are at great risk of having their contract award terminated and being liable to the U.S. Government under the False Claims Act.  In the past few years, violations have cost companies tens of millions of dollars in fines and terminated contracts.

It is and can be confusing to arrive at the correct determination, again the COR can assist if you need clarifications.

Good luck & Best Regards,
Gerry Caskey

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: 1 - In the first para of your response, you mention to seek clarification from the COR. Who/where/what is COR ?

2 - Reading further, it seems that the TAA might be valid. The sales price of the package is around $2.0 MM, which is well above the $123,000 threshold, or am I interpreting this incorrectly?

3 - If Japan is a "designated country", is it exempt from BAA or TAA

Apologies Alun,
This inquiry just came thru spam folder, go figure. Sigh.

COR / CO is Contracting Officer Representative and CO / KO are acronyms for Contracting Officer.

You will have to research the FAR and the specific designations in your contract to determine which and what are applicable to BAA & TAA, also the COR / CO can provide guidance / referrals as they may not be able to legally respond to some queries, it is upon the contractor to seek competent legal advice with respect to issues as described.

Good Luck,
Gerry Caskey

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Gerry Caskey


Questions relating to all aspects of Federal Government Contracting, Small Business, Prime and Subcontracting issues. Resources and references to aid navigation of CFRS, FARS, DFARS, DOSAR, DTAR, ITAR, UCP 500, etc. Request for Proposal (RFP/RFQ) outlines, writing and submission requirements. CCR Registrations, ORCA compliance and SBA submissions. Consultancy in relationship development and marketing to Federal, Foreign, State and Local Governments, corporate entities.


25 years as a Prime Contractor with the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of State, FEMA, DHS and additional Federal Agencies. 22 years independent consulting in business intelligence and continuity, program management, proposal development, GSA Schedules and Awards, copyright and trademark administration, international trade.

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