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Construction Officials Call On Obama Administration to Reconsider Proposed Hiring Quotas, Citing Lack of Need, Cost

Federal Officials Proposing Costly and Complex Hiring Quotas for Firms Working on Federal Projects, Despite Lack of Data Showing Need for New Measures

The Associated General Contractors of America today joined with 10 other national business associations in calling on the Obama administration to reconsider a series of new hiring mandates it wants to impose on contractors working on federal projects. Association officials noted that the government has failed to produce any data justifying the very costly and incredibly prescriptive new hiring mandates.

“The administration is getting ready to impose a tremendous new regulatory burden on thousands of employers to fix a problem that doesn’t appear to exist,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “The administration is trying to mandate away the symptoms of a broader problem: a stagnant economy that has left too many Americans out of work for too long.”

The new rules, which are being proposed by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), are designed to have firms working on federal contracts hire veterans and people with disabilities at the same rate at which they apply for positions. Yet Sandherr noted that federal officials have failed to provide any data indicating that veterans or people with disabilities are being treated unfairly with regard to hiring.

The rules also require firms to meet sweeping new reporting requirements, establish formal partnership agreements with community outreach programs to help with recruiting, and put in place new training programs, among other costly new measures. If firms fail to meet the “goals” set out in the two proposed rules, they face federal audits and potential debarment from working on future federal contracts.

Sandherr noted that construction firms across the country are already taking aggressive steps to recruit and hire veterans and people with disabilities. He noted, for example, that many firms participate in the Helmets to Hardhats training program that prepares veterans for careers in construction. And firms across the country have created apprentice, safety and training programs designed to recruit and prepare people with disabilities.

The association executive noted that the construction industry alone has lost over 2 million jobs since 2008 and that the industry’s unemployment rate was 14.5 percent; nearly double the national average and the highest for any industry type. “The problem isn’t that construction firms aren’t hiring veterans or people with disabilities, it is that they are too busy struggling to survive to do any hiring at all.”

Click here to view the business groups’ letter to the administration.

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