Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org March 16, 2017
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On the Inside
SAFETY
Help Us Repeal OSHA Effort to Extend Statute of Limitations for Recordkeeping Violations
WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
Congress Asks AGC for Guidance on Water Infrastructure
TRANSPORTATION
AGC Meets with Transportation Secretary Chao
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
Blacklisting Regulation Repeal Passes Congress, Moves to President
AGC Seeks Federal Agency Change Order Improvements
Got Questions for a Federal Agency? Submit them for AGC’s Federal Contractors Conference
ADMINISTRATION
Trump Releases FY 2018 Budget Outline
New Executive Order Seeks to Reorganize Federal Bureaucracy
SAFETY
Help Us Repeal OSHA Effort to Extend Statute of Limitations for Recordkeeping Violations
Senate Expected to Vote Soon
 

The Senate will consider repealing a rule that exposes business owners to unfair liability for honest and inadvertent paperwork mistakes related to recordkeeping. The rule – which extends the statute of limitations on recordkeeping violations from six months to five and a half years – does not improve the safety or health of your company’s workers. Contact your Senators and urge them to support swift passage of H.J.Res. 83 to stop OSHA’s abuse of authority. The House passed legislation to repeal the rule on March 1. 

The rule was issued by OSHA to get around a court decision involving a construction company that challenged an OSHA citation for a recordkeeping violation issued beyond six months. Two federal courts have since rebuked OSHA’s theory for issuing recordkeeping citations after six months. This rule, issued by the Obama administration in December, directly contradicts both the courts and Congress.

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

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WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
Congress Asks AGC for Guidance on Water Infrastructure
Testifies before House of Representatives
 

On March 9, AGC called for permit streamlining, long-term funding and timely construction execution decision making—i.e., change order decisions—by and for federal agencies involved in water infrastructure construction, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. AGC member Jonathan Kernion—president of Cycle Construction Company based in Louisiana—represented the only construction industry member on the panel testifying before the House Transportation & Infrastructure Water Subcommittee on “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: The Role of Federal Agencies in Water Infrastructure.”

For AGC’s Testimony, click here. For a recording of the hearing, click here.

For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at 703-837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org Return to Top

TRANSPORTATION
AGC Meets with Transportation Secretary Chao
Prioritizes Infrastructure Investment, Regulatory Reform
 

AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr and members of AGC’s Congressional Relations staff met with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao this week to discuss working with her and the Trump Administration on infrastructure investment and regulatory reform. In advance of the meeting, AGC provided a list of Transportation Department regulatory requirements, both newly imposed by the Obama Administration and some of long standing that could be abandoned or modified to speed up project delivery or ease the regulatory burden on contractors undertaking DOT-assisted projects.

On the funding front, AGC also pledged to work with the administration on an infrastructure initiative that provides needed investment in a variety of infrastructure categories. AGC suggested that providing the revenue needed to support a growing investment in highways, bridges and transit through the Highway Trust Fund should be part of the initiative. Secretary Chao said preliminary meetings on the Trump infrastructure initiative have been organized by the White House to coordinate input from the various federal agencies with some involvement in infrastructure.

For more information, contact Brian Deery atdeeryb@agc.org or (703) 837-5319. Return to Top

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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
Blacklisting Regulation Repeal Passes Congress, Moves to President
Thank You for Sending Letters to Your Members of Congress Urging Repeal
 

AGC and its members are on the verge of a major legislative victory: the repeal of the Blacklisting regulations, which would have implemented President Obama’s “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” Executive Order.  Following a concerted AGC advocacy effort in conjunction with business, the House voted for repeal with a 236-187 vote on Feb. 2 and the Senate voted for repeal on a 49-48 vote on March 9.  Take a moment to thank your members of Congress for voting to repeal the Blacklisting regulation. The legislation now moves to the president’s desk for his signature into law.

Under the blacklisting regulations, both prime and subcontractors would report violations and alleged violations of 14 federal labor laws and “equivalent” state labor laws during the previous three years, and again every six months, on federal contracts over $500,000. Prime contractors would also be responsible for evaluating the labor law violations of their subcontractors at all tiers during both contract solicitation and contract performance. A single alleged violation could lead a contracting officer to either (1) deny a prime contractor the right to compete for a federal contract; or (2) remove a prime contractor or subcontractor from an ongoing project.

For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at 703-837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org Return to Top

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AGC Seeks Federal Agency Change Order Improvements
Requests Data Reporting to Encourage Accountability
 

At AGC’s urging, the House of Representative’s Small Business Committee requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a review of the use of change orders on federal construction contracts. The review will examine at least one major civilian and one major defense agency with significant volumes of federal construction contracts. This bipartisan request is a direct result of AGC’s efforts with both parties in Congress to address the many issues associated with change orders.

Among the inquiries, the Committee asks GAO to request from the agency:

  • How long does it take, and should it take, for agencies to determine the cost impact of change orders and compensate the contractor?
  • What guidelines do agencies have for issuing and paying for change orders on the prime and subcontract levels?
  • What evidence exists of change order bundling?
  • What is the purpose of agencies engaging in bundling change orders?
  • How does change order bundling affect the ability of a contractor to obtain surety bonds?
  • Is there evidence that agencies otherwise may be acting in bad faith in delaying the settlement of change order requests for equitable adjustment?

AGC has previously called on the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council to improve the data federal agencies collect regarding the administration of change orders in response to the Council’s information request. AGC’s recommendations would require federal agencies to collect a range of data regarding the timeliness of action by the contracting officer (CO) in an effort to encourage greater CO accountability.  

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

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Got Questions for a Federal Agency? Submit them for AGC’s Federal Contractors Conference
Submit Questions by March 24
 

The difference between AGC’s Federal Contractors Conference (AGC FedCon) and other federal construction meetings is that at FedCon construction contractor-attendees drive the agenda. For this year’s conference—held May 1-3 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.—AGC is currently seeking your questions for consideration in meetings with headquarters leaders of the federal agencies.

Click on the agency to see our draft agendas for their session and send AGC your comments by March 24th.

In addition, learning about the latest projects and policies set to hit the street, AGC’s FedCon provides an opportunity to address problems the construction industry faces when working for federal agencies, including but not limited to: project delays, change orders, requests for equitable adjustments, claims, past performance evaluations and more.

To register for AGC’s FedCon, click here.

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

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ADMINISTRATION
Trump Releases FY 2018 Budget Outline
Mixed Bag for Infrastructure Accounts
 

On March 16, the Trump administration outlined its budget for fiscal year 2018, which calls for cuts to transportation, water and public housing infrastructure. However, the budget outline also calls for increased construction funding for the southern border wall and an unspecified amount for military construction to address “degraded facilities.” Notable policy initiatives include implementation of mandatory nationwide use of the E-Verify Program and a reduction of federal agency enforcement programs.

Specific highlights from the budget include:

  • Decreases to federal support for job training and employment service formula grants amid a construction workforce shortage;
  • Elimination of unspecified Occupational Safety and Health Administration training grants, which likely includes the Susan Harwood Safety Training grants that AGC has been a recipient of;
  • Elimination of funding for the unauthorized TIGER discretionary grant program, approximately a $499 million cut under the existing FY 2017 government funding bill;
  • Limited funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Program (New  Starts) to projects with existing full funding grant agreements only;
  • Funding $900 million for the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects grant program, authorized by the FAST Act of 2015, which supports larger highway and multimodal freight projects with demonstrable national or regional benefits;
  • Funding $2.3 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Water and Wastewater Infrastructure State Revolving Funds, a $4 million increase over the existing FY 2017 government funding bill;
  • Providing $20  million  for  the  Water  Infrastructure  Finance  and  Innovation  Act  program;
  • Elimination of the Department of Agriculture’s nearly $500 million Water and Wastewater Loan and Grant Program, instead relying on the private sector or other federal investments in rural water infrastructure, such as the EPA’s State Revolving Funds;
  • Elimination of $3 billion for  the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community  Development  Block  Grant  program; and
  • Reduction of the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance by $129 million compared to the existing FY 2017 government funding bill.

As with most presidential budgets, this document serves mostly in an advisory capacity to Congress, and many of the cuts proposed by the White House will face hurdles there. It should be noted that this budget document is a broad layout for how the Trump administration would like to see federal funds allocated. A more detailed budget is expected to come out in May. Additionally, the administration asked for a separate Security Supplemental of $30 billion for 2017. AGC will continue to call for adequate infrastructure investment and sensible construction industry policies as Congress considers the president’s budget.

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

New Executive Order Seeks to Reorganize Federal Bureaucracy
AGC to Review for Suggestions
 

On March 13, the president issued an executive order aiming to merge duplicative agencies and eliminate unnecessary agencies. The “Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch” Executive Order calls on the Office of Management and Budget to develop a plan to achieve the order’s goals. The plan may consider whether some or all functions of a federal agency would be better left to state or local governments or the private sector; whether the federal agency operating costs are justified by the public benefits it provides; and whether federal agency mission redundancies can be eliminated or streamlined.

AGC will further review the order and provide suggestions for streamlining the federal bureaucracy as a means to reduce permitting delays and help deliver construction projects in a timelier manner. For more a more detailed account on President Trump’s Executive Orders from the construction perspective, click here.

For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at 703-837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org Return to Top

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