ABC New Hampshire & Vermont News
NH Job Corps Bid Results, A Victory for Open Competition!
As ABC members are aware, as a result of a bid protest filed by three contractors in March with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) against a PLA mandated by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the DOL withdrew a solicitation that would have required contractors to sign a controversial union agreement—a PLA—as a condition of building the Job Corps Center in Manchester, N.H. After reviewing the facts of the case, the GAO strongly indicated to the parties that it likely would sustain the contractors’ protest under the federal Competition in Contracting Act, absent corrective action by the DOL. In direct response to the GAO’s action, on May 31, 2012, the DOL announced its withdrawal of the Job Corps Center solicitation that included the PLA mandate.
This was the second time the DOL tried to mandate a PLA on the Job Corps project and had been forced to withdraw it after contractors filed protests at the GAO. This was the fifth GAO bid protest ABC has supported on behalf of members objecting to illegal PLA requirements on federal projects. On each occasion, the federal agencies that attempted to mandate PLAs have been forced to withdraw their unlawful solicitations. An Executive Order issued in 2009 by President Obama encouraged federal agencies to consider requiring the use of PLAs on large-scale construction projects. The ABC protest were able to show the DOL’s PLA mandate needlessly restricted competition, increased costs to taxpayers and actually hurt local construction workers, all without any factual justification for the PLA
Great news! On February 14th the DOL held its bid opening for the NH Job Corps Center, without the PLA requirement. 10 bidders were included and the low apparent bid was Eckman Construction, Bedford, NH. The bid results were significantly lower than the previous bid opening which included a PLA requirement (the DOL made the decision to hold the previously scheduled bid opening, with the PLA requirement even though a protest was underway). Although numerous studies show PLAs discourage merit shop contractors and subcontractors from competing for federal contracts, thereby increasing costs to taxpayers and discriminating against the 86 percent of the construction workforce that does not belong to a labor union, the comparison of bid results from the two NH Job Corps bid openings provides important factual evidence of the inflationary impact of a PLA mandate.
Thanks to all members for your support over the past several months and particularly the protesters (plaintiffs) for standing up for open competition!