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ABC Applauds Bill to Increase Fair and Open Competition on Taxpayer-funded Construction Contracts

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24—Associated Builders and Contractors today voiced its strong support for the Fair and Open Competition Act (H.R. 1284 / S. 403), which was introduced today by Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.).

The Fair and Open Competition Act encourages more qualified construction companies to compete for federal and federally funded construction projects, providing value for hardworking taxpayers while benefiting the construction industry. At a time when the Biden administration is signaling its support for more government-mandated project labor agreements on our nation’s construction projects, this bill prevents federal agencies and recipients of federal funding from requiring contractors to sign controversial PLAs as a condition of winning federal or federally assisted construction contracts. 

“ABC supports the Fair and Open Competition Act because it will create quality jobs for veterans, minorities, women and local workers and expand opportunities for small businesses and all qualified contractors at a time when they are striving to survive and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ABC Vice President of Legislative & Political Affairs Kristen Swearingen. “This bill would protect local businesses and jobs while increasing competition, reducing construction costs and eliminating favoritism in the procurement process of public works projects to provide the best value for hardworking taxpayers.”

Recent government-mandated PLAs on federal and federally assisted projects have resulted in litigation, reduced competition, increased costs, needless delays and poor local hiring outcomes. Simply put, taxpayers are getting less and paying more when PLA preferences and mandates are required during the procurement of federal and federally assisted construction projects.

“Government-mandated PLAs discriminate against the 87.3% of the private U.S. construction workforce that chooses not to join a labor union and drive up the cost of taxpayer-funded construction by 12% to 20% compared to projects not subject to PLA mandates,” said Swearingen. “FOCA is a win-win for the recovering U.S. economy and hardworking taxpayers because it creates an inclusive policy allowing all qualified companies and their workforce to fairly compete to rebuild America’s infrastructure.”

A total of 25 states have passed measures like the Fair and Open Competition Act in order to curb waste and favoritism in the procurement of construction projects and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly by letting the market determine if a PLA is appropriate.

While the Fair and Open Competition Act would prohibit government-mandated PLAs on federal and federally assisted construction projects, this legislation would still allow federal agencies to award contracts to businesses that voluntarily enter a PLA before or after a fair and open competitive bidding process. Allowing all of the best contractors to compete on a level playing field is the best way to deliver value to taxpayers and create jobs for local workers.

In this Feb. 4 letter to President Biden, ABC expressed concerns about government-mandated PLAs and the “expansion of existing policies that needlessly limit competition and increase costs on taxpayer-funded federal and federally assisted construction projects.”

This week, an ABC-led coalition of 17 construction industry and business associations sent this letter to the House and Senate in support of the bill, urging them to immediately pass this common-sense legislation.

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