Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org June 17, 2010
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On the Inside
FEDERAL
First Set of Final Recovery Act Rules Released
Progress on Buy American
CONGRESS
Legislation to Restrict Free Speech Gains Momentum
AGC PAC
AGC PAC Plans Investment in Candidates
AGC NEWS
New Video Highlights Combined AGC/Caterpillar Efforts to Address Traffic Congestion that Costs Construction Firms $23 Billion a Year
FEDERAL
First Set of Final Recovery Act Rules Released
 

Three of the five rules from the Federal Acquisition Regulation Councils that govern the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were released this week. Final versions of the rules governing GAO/IG access to contractors and their employees, whistleblower protections, and publicizing contract actions now permanently govern Recovery Act contracts.

AGC submitted comments on the GAO/IG Access rule. AGC requested that an IG provide reasonable advance notice to contractors and their employees before a review of contractor transactions, including when and where the review and interviews will occur; the topics to be covered; the employees affected; and the total amount of time required to conduct the review.

The FAR Councils disagreed, and stated that the purpose of the rule is to put contractors on notice that they may need to make their records and employees available in the event a review is requested. The Councils prefer to leave the exact review procedures that the Comptroller General or his authorized representatives use to execute such procedures and not detail them in the FAR. The two remaining rules, governing the reporting requirements and ‘Buy American’ regulations, have not yet been released in final form.

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

Progress on Buy American
 

More progress on the Buy American front this week as yet another agency recognized the complex impact these Recovery Act rules have on projects. The Indian Health Service (IHS) issued a nationwide di minimis waiver for incidental components of sanitation facilities construction projects funded by ARRA.

As with the di minimis waivers in place from EPA and USDA, the waiver covers components that are incorporated into the project, yet cumulatively comprise no more than a total of 5 percent of the total materials used in a project. For many of these incidental components, the country of origin and the availability of alternatives is not always readily or reasonably identifiable prior to procurement in the normal course of business; for other incidental components, the country of origin may be known but the miscellaneous nature of the products in conjunction with their low cost (both individually and procured in bulk) characterize them as incidental to the facility or project.

The majority of the services sanitation facilities projects are in remote locations. The service argued that a disproportionate cost and delay would be imposed on projects if they did not issue this waiver.  IHS said it would be inconsistent with the public interest to apply the Buy American requirement to incidental components.  AGC last year urged agencies like HIS to issue di minimis waivers to avoid costly delays caused by the stimulus’ Buy American provisions.

Also on the Buy American front is a pair of new waivers from the EPA. These waivers are unique in that they are retroactive, applying to materials that were already put in place, rather than requesting a waiver for the purposes of moving forward with construction. Waivers for two cities in Washington State, Richland and Bridgeport, were requested under the public interest section of the waiver authority. Neither waiting for domestic suppliers nor pulling out previously installed goods was deemed in the public interest because of unacceptable delays and cost overruns on these projects. AGC supports the waivers and will continue to monitor progress on this front.

For more information, contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5368 or berrys@agc.org. Return to Top

CONGRESS
Legislation to Restrict Free Speech Gains Momentum
 

Congressional Democrats in the U.S. House continue to work on legislation that restricts the ability of trade associations and corporations to engage in political advocacy. The legislation H.R. 5175, the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act (DISCLOSE Act), places significant and complicated restrictions on speech in the form of political advocacy while ensuring that these restrictions will not be clarified by regulation before the law impacts the 2010 elections. Unlike past changes in campaign finance law (such as McCain Feingold), the Disclose Act is written to take effect immediately upon passage instead of waiting for the next election cycle and for regulations to be written to clarify compliance requirements.

The bill would treat corporations and trade associations differently than labor unions, even though both sides are active in political advocacy. Also, the bill makes significant changes to foreign ownership rules. It gags companies that receive even small government contracts but does not similarly gag unions who represent government employees.

AGC opposes H.R. 5175 because of its restriction on free speech and increased confusion of campaign finance laws. The vote has been designated a Key Vote and will be an indicator of support for issues significant to the construction industry. To read the letter AGC sent to Congress this week click here.

For more information, contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

AGC PAC
AGC PAC Plans Investment in Candidates
 

Over the past week, AGC PAC has held a series of conference calls with PAC Regions throughout the country.  The calls have created lively discussion concerning the current state of the PAC, PAC fundraising goals, future plans and requests for AGC PAC disbursements, and the 2010 Election. 

With six of ten conference calls completed, AGC PAC has agreed to invest over $140,000 in candidates – both current members of Congress as well as some challengers.  The PAC budgeted a little over $80,000 in a reserve fund in hopes of raising at least an additional $120,000 for the PAC prior to Election Day.  In an attempt to reach this ambitious goal, AGC PAC has kicked off a new fundraising campaign “$210 in 2010.” AGC PAC is encouraging contributors to the PAC to give $210 more dollars in this extremely important election year. Chapter, state and regional PAC Network contacts will receive further information on the campaign in a few weeks.  The PAC will only tap into the reserve funds if that goal is met.  One more conference call will be held this week and three will be held Monday.  A full review of the calls will be available in this newsletter next week.

For more information, contact Blair Hood at (202) 547-5013 or hoodb@agc.org. Return to Top

AGC NEWS
New Video Highlights Combined AGC/Caterpillar Efforts to Address Traffic Congestion that Costs Construction Firms $23 Billion a Year
 

The new video from AGC’s media event last week on the costs of traffic congestion includes comments from Caterpillar Global Paving’s Jim McReynolds, member Gary Sauer of Tiller Corporation, Dave Semerad of AGC of Minnesota and Steve Sandherr. 

AGC’s release of the new congestion cost figures garnered significant media attention, with the news covered by the MinnPost and the local Channel 12 News (start at 5:27), as well as the Portland Tribune, New Orleans City Business and NJ Biz, among others.

Click here to watch the video.

For more information, contact Brian Turmail at (703) 837-5310 or turmailb@agc.org. Return to Top

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