April 24, 2008
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OSHA Announces Public Hearing for Confined Space in Construction
Clean Drinking Water Number One Environmental Concern
DoD Report Estimates Cost of 3% Withholding
House Passes Three Contracting Reform Measures

  OSHA Announces Public Hearing for Confined Space in Construction
On Monday, April 21, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published in the Federal Register a notice for informal public hearings for Confined Space in Construction.  The public hearings are scheduled to start on July 22, 2008, and will continue, if necessary, the remainder of the week. AGC will present testimony for the public hearing.

AGC recently submitted comments for the notice for proposed rulemaking for Confined Space in Construction. To read AGC’s comments, click here
For more information on the public hearing, click here.

If you have any additional comments or questions for Confined Space in Construction or the public hearing, please contact Michele Myers at myersm@agc.org or (703) 837-5410.
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  Clean Drinking Water Number One Environmental Concern
A recent Gallup Poll shows that Americans perceive clean drinking water as a threat more than climate change.  Fifty-three percent of Americans worry “a great deal” over the pollution of drinking water, while just thirty-seven percent place that concern on global warming, according to a Gallup Poll taken March 6-9, 2008.

While overall environmental confidence is up a bit from last year, drinking water is still very much on the minds of the public – despite its delivery being an unseen process which is largely taken for granted.  AGC continues to urge Congress and the administration to fully fund the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Funds. AGC is also pushing for legislation to establish a trust fund to help overburdened states and municipalities provide clean and safe water to every household in the nation.  AGC-backed Clean Water Trust Fund legislation is anticipated in the near future. 

For more information contact Stu Megaw at megaws@agc.org  or (703) 837-5321.
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  DoD Report Estimates Cost of 3% Withholding
The Department of Defense (DoD) this week issued a report, requested by Congress, that estimates the cost of compliance with the new 3% withholding law.  The withholding law, which is scheduled to go into effect in 2011, requires federal, state and some local governments to withhold 3% from the price of every contract or progress payment and remit it to the IRS.  The DoD studied the cost it will likely pay for contracts run through the department and estimated a total of $17 billion to comply.  This far exceeds the expected benefit to the U.S. Treasury of $7 billion, if the law is implemented. 

As $17 billion is only the cost to one department of the many departments and agencies on the federal level, let alone the state and local level, the net implementation costs of this law will far exceed any benefit and in fact will cost the U.S. taxpayer.  AGC is urging the full repeal of this law and is encouraging congressional members to sign on to HR 1023 and S 777 which repeal the 3% withholding law.

For more information, contact Heidi Blumenthal at blumenthalh@agc.org or (202) 547-8892.
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  House Passes Three Contracting Reform Measures
On Wednesday the House of Representatives approved by voice vote three measures designed to increase transparency in contracting and avoid waste, fraud and abuse.

The Government Contractor Accountability Act (HR 3928), sponsored by Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) would require firms to disclose the names and salaries of their top five most highly compensated officers if the firm earns more than 80% of their annual revenue from federal contracts, grants, loans, cooperative agreements or other sources, and if they held contracts worth more than $25 million in any fiscal year.
The House also passed HR 3033, Contractors and Federal Spending Accountability Act, by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), that would create a government-wide database on contractor performance and misconduct. The measure originally included harsh language that would increase the threshold for debarment, but was removed after AGC and industry partners worked to remove the provision.
The third measure approved was the Close the Contractor Fraud Loophole Act (H.R. 5712), by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.). The legislation removes the ethics and compliance requirements loophole for companies working on overseas contracts. The rule would require contractors to self-report criminal violations of contracting rules, such as fraud, as well as overpayments by the government.
The measures will now go to the Senate for consideration where it is possible some of these bills will be introduced as amendments to the 2009 Defense Authorization Act.

For more information contact Marco Giamberardino at marcog@agc.org or (703) 837-5325.
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