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
For more information, contact Marco
Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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 email@example.com.
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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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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
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 email@example.com.
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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
Orleans City Business and NJ
Biz, among others.
Click here to watch the
For more information, contact Brian Turmail
at (703) 837-5310 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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