consultants are sandburs

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Veteran preference in contractor hiring for federally funded projects - are quotas really unfair, or only when ethnic/linguistic minorities are favored?

The headline question is for each reader to consider and answer for him/herself.

This MinnPost link, "Contractors contest new rules for employing veterans - By Adam Wahlberg - 08/30/13." This opening excerpt:

The U.S. Department of Labor said this week that it has updated a federal rule designed to promote the hiring and employment of veterans—and while veterans appear to welcome the change, contractors say it is unnecessary and will increase costs.

The new rule updates the requirements set forth by the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) of 1974, which told federal contractors and subcontractors to recruit, hire, train, and promote veterans but that didn’t contain any benchmarks for companies.

The rule requires contractors to adopt either an 8 percent benchmark (which reflects the percentage of veterans in the national workforce) or create their own benchmark based on “the best available data.” For example, if an employer is based in a geographic area with very few veterans who are applying for these jobs, the metric may be adjusted.

Quota time, folks. Later in the item:

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) said that the new rule would create an Everest of new paperwork with a steep price tag for compliance. [...]

In addition to the changes to rules pertaining to veterans, the Obama administration also announced this week an update to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 concerning the hiring of people with disabilities by federal contractors. Under the new rule, contractors and subcontractors are asked to set a goal of staffing 7 percent of their workforces with people with disabilities. [Brian Turmail, executive director of public affairs for a contractors' trade organization] notes that the cost nationally to comply with the two rules could rise to $6 billion a year for contractors.

The Labor Department disputes this.

Doubling up on quotas, folks.

Good news? Bad news? Is there a small business exemption, i.e., do the rules only kick in on a project funding size basis, or project workforce size basis?

Are wholly private sector contractors free to do as they please? Recall, when Ramsey's rail stop and Flaherty's adventure were being built, the rail stop contractor was constrained by state law [Minnesota's little Davis-Bacon Act] to pay prevailing wage, and keep records for verification, whereas Flaherty could pay as little as he cared to offer, constrained only by what the market would bear.

Again, the full report as written is online here.

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