Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a solicitation for construction services on its estimated $20 million to $50 million Job Corps Center in Manchester, N.H., without a discriminatory and costly project labor agreement (PLA) mandate or preference. The PLA removal was a victory for ABC, free enterprise, the Granite State’s taxpayers and contracting community.

The Job Corps Center was the first federal project subject to a government-mandated PLA following President Obama’s Feb. 6, 2009, Executive Order 13502, which encourages federal agencies like the DOL to mandate PLAs on a case-by-case basis for federal construction projects exceeding $25 million in total cost. The DOL mandated a PLA on this project in September 2009, before the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council had even issued a final rule implementing regulations into federal procurement code permitting federal agencies to mandate a PLA.

The PLA mandate resulted in considerable delays and prevented the creation of badly needed new jobs for the construction industry, which suffered from an industry-wide unemployment rate of 27.2 percent in February 2010 – the highest level recorded since the federal government began making the data available in 1976.

In the face of a bid protest filed at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) by an ABC general contractor member based in New Hampshire, the DOL canceled the Job Corps Center solicitation in November 2009.

Rather than remove the controversial PLA mandate and proceed with the procurement process, the DOL waited more than two years to issue a new solicitation for the Job Corps Center in December 2011.

The solicitation still contained a PLA mandate, and public record requests uncovered the DOL spent almost $430,000 paying for Hill International to evaluate the use of PLAs in federal contracting and justify the DOL’s use of a PLA on the project.

Once again, federal contractors, with the assistance of ABC, filed a protest at the GAO against the DOL’s PLA. In June 2012, the DOL once again canceled the solicitation in the face of a bid protest. 

The DOL’s recent PLA-free solicitation is a win against special interest favoritism in federal contracting.

Read more about this project on post, “Victory: Manchester’s U.S. DOL Job Corps Center To Proceed Free From Project Labor Agreement Scheme.”

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