Bush Administration Revokes Contractor Responsibility Rules

Article excerpt

By revoking the less-than-popular contractor responsibility rules, the Bush administration has drawn praise from small business advocacy groups and disdain from labor organizations.

As reported in the Jan. 17 issue of Minorities in Business Insider, a Washington, D.C.-based newsletter, the regulations specified grounds for which contractors could be barred from doing business with the federal government. The regulations also prohibited contractors from claiming federal payment for activities that assist, promote or deter unionization.

These regulations were originally proposed in 1999 and became final, effective Jan. 19, 2001, one day before the inauguration of President Bush. The regulations had been suspended since April 2000, when the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council placed a stay on the rules. In addition, many federal agencies had exempted themselves from the rule in February 2001 by invoking a clause in the Federal Acquisition Regulation that allows agencies to exempt themselves from new rules.

There has been heated debate about the need for contractor responsibility rules. In general, many construction contracting groups and trade associations opposed the rules while construction unions supported them. With the announcement of the revocation, union organizations, including the AFL-CIO call the revocation "an outrage."

AFL-CIO representatives cite a recent General Accounting Office study that found that in one year, 261 federal contractors with 5,121 violations of health and safety laws received $38 billion in federal contracts. …