WASHINGTON – In a regulatory filing with five other associations representing government contracting firms, the IT Alliance for Public Sector (ITAPS), a division of ITI, urged the Obama administration to withdraw and reconsider its proposed rule implementing President Barack Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Work Places executive order. After carefully studying the proposed and problematic regulation, the groups call into question whether the government has adequately assessed the costs, burdens, and even unintended harmful impacts the proposal will have on the government and the federal marketplace.
“This question is not about supporting or opposing the idea of fair pay and safe workplaces, as we agree that only responsible companies should be allowed to receive federal contracts,” said Trey Hodgkins, ITAPS senior vice president for public sector. “Sadly, this proposal does not achieve the goal of creating more fair pay and safer workplaces. Instead, it would further damage the already dysfunctional and overly complex system used by the government to purchase goods and services. I am concerned that as government IT ages and falls further behind, this will discourage responsible companies and even startups from offering their technology and services to the government.”
The proposed rule stems from the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” executive order (E.O. 13673), which was issued by President Obama last July. At that time, President Obama noted that the “vast majority” of federal contractors play by the rules and were unlikely to be impacted by it. Given this fact, the groups question why the new sweeping and significant compliance regime proposed by the rule is necessary when the government wants to go after a small group of labor offenders.
“Contracting is about selling goods and services at the best value for federal agencies to meet their missions for our country,” Hodgkins said. “Experts have studied this new regime and agree that the government should focus its efforts on the few bad actors. These bad actors can be weeded out by using existing powers to disbar companies from contracting and by enforcing labor laws.”
In a TechWonk blog posted last November, Hodgkins noted that the administration and federal agencies already have strong enforcement powers from the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), over a dozen labor laws, and numerous related state laws intended to target offenders that violate the law. Given the effectiveness of these tools, he suggested at that time that the administration should focus on stronger enforcement rather than adding more bureaucracy.
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