U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a proposal for a new pilot program that will explore new ways to make it easier for states and cities to hire local residents for transportation projects. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Birmingham Mayor William Bell joined the Secretary for the announcement.
“Local workers often have the greatest stake in local road and transit projects, but federal rules make it hard for communities to ensure that their workers reap some of the benefits and that’s just not right,” said Secretary Foxx. “We want to create ladders of opportunities for them, as well as for low-income workers and veterans, to help put some of the transportation investments we make in the hands of those who would benefit most.”
“When we invest in L.A. infrastructure, we want to maximize our investment in L.A. jobs, and this provides us with a new way forward to boost our local economy as we cut traffic and fight smog,” said Mayor Garcetti. “I thank Secretary Foxx for his commitment to strengthening my city and communities across the nation.”
Federal contracting rules have traditionally prohibited the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) from allowing recipients to use contract provisions that do not directly relate to the performance of work but further social or economic goals, functionally prohibiting local hire provisions.The pilot program announced today will allow both agencies to test and evaluate the merits of such provisions and whether the existing competitive bidding process can be improved.
“Transportation plays a critical role in connecting Americans and communities to economic opportunity,” said Greg Nadeau, Deputy Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. “This measure will go a long way to bridging the gap between the qualified workers who need work and projects that need them.”
“The investments we make in local communities are truly transformational,” said Therese McMillan, Acting Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration. “These investments should not only change the landscape of a community, but it should also transform and improve the lives of its residents too.”
The year-long pilot is proposed as an experiment under FHWA’s “Special Experimental Project No. 14 (SEP-14) and FTA experimental authorities, provisions made possible by Congress to allow the agencies leeway in finding new and more effective means of building, maintaining and managing federal transportation projects.
The Department published a related proposal in the Federal Register to modify the “common grant” rule geographic preference provision applied to USDOT programs. The public is encouraged to review it and submit comments to the Comment Docket (Link). The comment period will close 30 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.