The following post is by Wendy Novak, President, Associate Builders and Contractors of Western Washington
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and Associated General Contractor (AGC) are strongly opposed to the flawed Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces final rule, commonly referred to as “blacklisting.” Released in August by the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council, the rule, which was accompanied by a guidance document from the U.S. Department of Labor and a White House amendment to Executive Order 13673, will increase costs for taxpayers, threaten the livelihood of millions of Americans who work for responsible federal contractors and cripple the federal procurement process with needless uncertainty, delays and litigation.
ABC leadership is concerned that the flawed blacklisting final rule will create a murky and needlessly subjective procurement process that will result in fewer qualified and responsible contractors bidding on federal contracts. Upon initial review, it appears that rather than working toward improving the federal government’s existing suspension and debarment system, the administration has finalized a proposal that is duplicative and cumbersome and will result in less competition for taxpayer-funded contracts. The final rule fails to address key concerns raised by ABC, AGC, and other stakeholders during the comment period that would boost small business participation and promote awarding contracts based on merit to responsible firms that can deliver the highest quality product at the best price.
In a media release, AGC leadership asserted: “we have worked so hard to make sure the federal government has a clear-cut and fairly-administered suspension and debarment program to deal with the extremely small number of federal contractors that do not operate in good faith. However, this new Obama administration rule is a step in the wrong direction when it comes to weeding out the very few unfair and unscrupulous federal contractors.”
In addition to the already substantial consequences firms currently face, this new measure permits unelected federal bureaucrats to make arbitrary decisions about which other firms will be singled out for punishment. Even worse, this new rule gives those same federal officials broad latitude to impose separate and inconsistent consequences on those firms. Such subjective criteria opens the door to punishing federal contractors based on which political, social or labor causes they support, instead of their safety performance or treatment of workers.
“ABC supports a level and transparent playing field for federal contractors and believes unethical firms should be held accountable,” said ABC Vice President of Regulatory, Labor & State Affairs Ben Brubeck. “However, our initial concerns regarding the proposal’s stripping of due process rights while also adding unwarranted uncertainty by empowering bureaucrats to subjectively pick winners and losers in the federal contracting marketplace remain. ABC will continue to explore every available avenue, including the judicial system, to protect taxpayers, contractors and their employees, whose livelihoods rely on a fair procurement system, from this overreaching policy.”
ABC will explore all possible legislative and legal measures for undoing this deeply troubling and unnecessary new federal mandate. More information is available abc.org Newsline.