Contruction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgFebruary 19, 2009
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On the Inside
STIMULUS
President Obama Signs American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Into Law
White House Budget Office Issues Stimulus Guidance to Agencies
BUDGET
Congress Turns Attention to FY 2009 Omnibus and FY 2010 Budget
LABOR
AGC Supports Legislation Calling for Federal Contracts to be Awarded Through Open Competition; Continue to Voice Your Support
AGC Members’ Effort to Discourage Cosponsorship of “Card Check” is Working; Please Continue to Act
GOVERNMENT
GAO Releases Study on Embassy Construction
 
STIMULUS
President Obama Signs American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Into Law
Stimulus Web site covers all construction programs
 

On February 13, 2009, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (HR 1), and President Obama signed the bill at a ceremony in Denver on February 17. The Act includes a total of $787.2 billion in spending and tax cuts, including $308 billion in appropriated spending, $269 million in direct spending (refundable portion of tax credits, Unemployment assistance, Medicaid reimbursement to states, etc) and $211 billion in tax cuts. AGC worked hard to ensure significant infrastructure investment was included in the plan, and ultimately secured $140 billion in construction spending.

Highlights include $4.6 billion for the Corps of Engineers; $1.2 billion for the VA hospital and medical facility construction and improvements; $3.1 billion for repair, restoration and improvement of public facilities; $4.2 billion for facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization; $2.33 billion for Department of Defense Facilities; $1 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation; $48 billion for transportation infrastructure; $14.5 billion for environmental clean-up and clean water programs; $39.5 billion to local school districts for modernization or other purposes; and $4.5 billion for increased energy efficiency in federal buildings.
 
AGC has updated its stimulus Web site to provide comprehensive information on what the final legislation signed by President Obama means for the construction industry.  Included on the site is a breakdown of construction spending by program, with as much detail as is currently available about how the money will be allocated, by whom, and if possible, how much will go to each state.  The site also includes analysis of the various tax provisions within the legislation that affect the construction industry and an overview of some of the policy implications of the legislation.

The intent of the site is to provide our members, and more broadly the construction community, the widest possible range of current information about the stimulus.  In addition, over the coming weeks we will be creating a new site, “Stimulus At Work,” which will highlight the work our members are doing to help ensure the success of the stimulus package.

For more information, contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or giamberm@agc.org. Return to Top

White House Budget Office Issues Stimulus Guidance to Agencies
 

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a stimulus guidance document to the Federal agencies on February 18. The memo will serve to provide information on how to administer stimulus funds and provide information and requirements on financial reporting, risk management and contracting.

The guidance addresses Federal agency requirements to provide spending and performance data to the “Recovery.gov” website. The Web site is designed to provide greater transparency and accountability for stimulus dollars to be accurately tracked and monitored. The guidance also establishes requirements for various aspects planning and implementation of the Act, including the following objectives:

• Funds are awarded and distributed in a prompt, fair, and reasonable manner;
• The recipients and uses of all funds are transparent to the public, and the public benefits of these funds are reported clearly, accurately, and in a timely manner;
• Funds are used for authorized purposes and instances of fraud, waste, error and abuse are mitigated;
• Projects funded under this Act avoid unnecessary delays and cost overruns; and
• Program goals are achieved, including specific program outcomes and improved results on broader economic indicators.

OMB plans on issuing additional guidance providing further detail and covering a fuller range of items within the next 30-60 days.

For more information, contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or giamberm@agc.org. Return to Top

BUDGET
Congress Turns Attention to FY 2009 Omnibus and FY 2010 Budget
 

Having wrapped up work on the economic recovery package, House and Senate Appropriations Committees will return from the President’s Day recess to complete work on the fiscal year 2009 appropriations process and prepare for the arrival of the President’s FY 2010 budget.  Because Congress failed to enact all but three (Defense, Homeland Security and Military Construction) of its annual appropriations bills, the majority of federal programs are operating under a Continuing Resolution through March 6.  Congress is expected to pass an Omnibus appropriations bill that would consolidate the nine remaining annual spending measures to fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year without much controversy. 

The Obama Administration’s spending priorities are likely to be included in the upcoming FY2010 budget request to Congress, which is expected to be released in full in April.  The Administration is expected to release a blueprint of the budget next week, which will preview the Administration’s fiscal agenda for the next four years.  

The annual Congressional appropriations process provides, on average, about $100-110 billion for federal construction spending accounts.  Congress is expected to use this year’s appropriations process to conduct hearings on the efficiency and effectiveness of stimulus funding and to determine where additional spending may be directed to continue recovery efforts.  This process will allow AGC an opportunity to highlight the job creation and quality of life improvements that we expect from the stimulus funding.  

For more information, contact Karen Bachman Lapsevic at (202) 547-4733 or bachmank@agc.org. Return to Top

LABOR
AGC Supports Legislation Calling for Federal Contracts to be Awarded Through Open Competition; Continue to Voice Your Support
 

Last week, Congressman Sullivan (R-Okla.) introduced legislation (H.R. 983) that seeks to ensure that federal contracts are awarded through open competition. The Government Neutrality in Contracting Act would prohibit the use of government mandated project labor agreements.

This legislation mirrors the Senate bill, S.90, which was introduced by Senator Vitter (R-La.).
AGC does not support government-mandated labor agreements (GMLAs) and believes they effectively compel both union and open shop contractors to alter their hiring practices, work rules, job assignments and benefits in order to compete or perform work on publicly-funded projects. This not only constitutes inappropriate government interference with private labor relations, but it amounts to an unfair government preference that can significantly impact the cost of public works.

AGC sent a letter to the House in support of Congressman Sullivan’s bill. Please visit the AGC Legislative Action Center to send a letter in support of The Government Neutrality in Contracting Act.

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at (202) 547-4685 or knottk@agc.org. Return to Top

AGC Members’ Effort to Discourage Cosponsorship of “Card Check” is Working; Please Continue to Act
 

Supporters of the (so-called) Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) remain short of their goal of original cosponsors thanks to AGC members voicing their concerns.   AGC opposes the Employee Free Choice Act and urges AGC members to discourage cosponsorship.

EFCA would take away a worker’s right to a federally supervised private ballot election when deciding whether or not to select union representation. It also imposes unrealistically short deadlines for labor-management negotiations over a first contract before mandating third-party mediation and binding arbitration.

AGC supports the status quo, which allows both card-check recognition and secret-ballot elections to establish union representation and remains the most fair and reliable way to determine the desire of employees to be represented by a union.

Please reach out to your Members of Congress to urge them not to co-sponsor or support the bill. Make your voice heard on this issue by using AGC’s Legislative Action Center. Contact your congressional delegation today and urge them not to co-sponsor or support the (so-called) Employee Free Choice Act.

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at (202) 547-4685 or knottk@agc.org. Return to Top

GOVERNMENT
GAO Releases Study on Embassy Construction
 

On Tuesday February 17, the Government Accountability Office publicly released a report on diminishing contractor participation in the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) embassy construction program.  The report was jointly requested by the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees in August 2007 after a series of meetings with AGC, congressional staff and OBO.

The report, titled Embassy Construction: Additional Actions Are Needed to Address Contractor Participation, highlights longstanding AGC concerns that have led to diminishing contractor participation in the OBO program. Additionally, the report examined proposed legal changes in OBO prequalification criteria, factors that have impacted contactors interest in participating in the program including risk allocation, project management, design issues, REA’s, compressed schedules and the termination of partnering under the direction of former OBO Director Charles Williams.

In addition to the GAO report, AGC’s efforts led to an internal review by the State Department Inspector General released in August 2008 which examined of the entire OBO program and made over 50 recommendations to improve construction and management issues at the State Department.

In a letter to AGC of America President Doug Barnhart on January 9, 2009, OBO highlighted many of the changes that are underway, including instituting project management, streamlining the Standard Embassy Design (SED) RFP, creating bridging documents, improving REA and change order management, address scheduling and other management issues which are intended to create a more equitable and consistent relationship with contractors. AGC and OBO remain committed to an open and honest dialogue as OBO undertakes these significant steps to improve its program.

For more information, contact Perry Fowler at (703) 837-1983 or fowlerp@agc.org. Return to Top

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