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Engineering RFP / specs.: Restricting country of origin.

  1. Jul 15, 2013 #1


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    I was reading a Utility Guidelines document (Yale, for internal systems, but publically available) and came across an interesting clause:

    No piping, fittings, or specialties manufactured, fabricated, and/or assembled in China, Taiwan, or India are permitted on any project including those companies registered with ISO 9001. (google this bit if you want to access the full document)

    Now, I can see where this might come from. Perhaps, the design engineer got burnt in the past etc.

    My question: As a design engineer, am I allowed to, in general, put such clauses (restricting country of origin) in my specs. or RFP's etc.? Asides of political correctness, will this be ok legally?

    What about those engineers working in government settings? Does this pass?

    Just curious about opinions.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2013 #2
    These clauses are sometimes required by the owner (your customer if you're the design engineer), they are required to do this by their contracts with various unions.

    I don't see the design engineer coming up with such restrictions on your own. If you write the spec correctly then any supplier that meets the spec should be OK. That's the reason for writing specs in the first place.
  4. Jul 15, 2013 #3
    The reason for this spec is quality assurance, I doubt it has anything to do with unions (though, it's a fair point, and it's something all engineers writing spec's should consider). That's why it talks about ISO 9001 which is the certification for quality management systems. Eastern Asian countries are notorious for fabricating and casting products with limited to no quality management (meaning limited/no tracking, cert's, quality tests, etc). Maybe it would be more fair to say that many contractors decide to purchase materials from companies in that part of the world that provide inexpensive products at the expense of eliminating quality control. There's also been quite a lot of trouble with falsified records and certifications even from manufacturers which were ISO 9001 certified (since certification is done not by ISO, but by third party representatives). Some Owners just decide to nip that in the bud from the beginning and stipulate that materials shall not come from that part of the world.
  5. Jul 16, 2013 #4


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    Ok. Thanks.

    I was only wondering if there might be any legal challanges to this. e.g. Could I (very hypothetically) put in a RFP "Contractors from New Jersey need not apply" :)

    As a private business in the US I suppose one has a lot of leeway about who and how one chooses to do business with.

    Wonder if there are any Government contracts personnel on the forum. They might be bound by stricter rules as to how they can discriminate.
  6. Jul 16, 2013 #5
    That depends on who the client is. I'm not well versed in these types of local exclusions, nor am I a corporate lawyer, so please don't take my advice as the Word. It really depends though, many government contracts work off some version of "full and open competition" and restricting the bidders list by geography might be considered bid rigging. But again, that's mostly for federally funded, or overseen, projects (union contracts may stipulate this as well). I do not know the regulations (if they exist) for private companies wishing to restrict their bidders list, after all, private companies can sole source if they so-choose, and very often use other bids as check-bids while they have already begun discussions with the company of their choice (which in most regulations would be considered bid rigging).

    Generally I've just seen this handled by stipulating internally that bids from NJ will be rejected, whether or not they are cheaper in their proposal. Though this sometimes get's the pencil pushers upset, so I could see why you'd want to nip that in the bud right off the bat.
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