Industry asks for delay in fair pay, safe workplace rule implementation

Six industry associations are asking the government to delay the implementation of new rules around safe workplaces and fair pay for at least a year.

The Coalition of Defense and Space Industry Associations, which includes the Aerospace Industries Association, American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), IT Alliance for Public Sector (ITAPS), National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), Professional Services Council (PSC), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a letter that the government is not prepared to implement the rule as even the portal for reporting violations hasn’t been designed or developed yet. The associations are asking the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to begin phase-in starting Oct. 25, 2017 for contracts worth more than $50 million, and then April 25, 2018 to cover contracts worth more than $500,000 and then subcontractor compliance beginning Oct. 26, 2018.

The associations made a similar request in commenting during the proposed rule phase too.

“Although the final rule included a short delay in the initial application of the rule to certain major contracts, coupled with a limited phase-in for subcontractors and in the ‘look-back’ provisions, the core elements of the final rule did not change significantly from the proposed rule,” the letter stated. “Thus, even the phase-in of the requirements leaves inadequate time for contractors to develop and implement the necessary systems and processes required by this rulemaking, even though the initial tranche of compliance is limited to contracts over $50 million and to a 12-month look-back period.”

The FAR Council issued the final rule on Aug. 25 that would require prime vendors to disclose violations for 14 labor law protections that occurred in the past three years starting Oct. 25.

The regulations come more than two years after President Barack Obama signed the executive order.

Vendors have been less than excited about the executive order, given even the White House admits that less than 10 percent of contractors knowingly violate the 14 labor laws.

“Our problem with the executive order is it takes the Labor Department’s responsibilities for determining compliance with labor laws and burdens the contracting officer with that enforcement responsibility,” Berteau said in an interview with Federal News Radio in August. “At best, it’s a sheer duplication of the responsibility of the Labor Department. And at worst, it’s a huge burden of collecting information. And that burden would rest on the contractors, on the thousands or tens of thousands of subcontractors and on the contracting officers.”

In the letter, the associations say the delay also is necessary since both versions of the Defense Authorization bills “either prevent application of the rules to DoD (House) or restrict their application to those contractors already suspended or debarred (Senate); and that the House-passed fiscal year 2017 Financial Services Appropriations Act would block application of these rules governmentwide.”

Since both versions of the NDAA include some sort of provision addressing the executive order, it’s likely that the implementation of the final rule would change. The associations are asking for a delay to see the final outcome under the NDAA.

This EO is one of 12 issued by the White House over the last eight years that have focused on contractors.

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