Washington Examiner Beltway Confidential columnist Barbara Hollingsworth covered the controversial project labor agreement (PLA) on a federal construction project in Washington, D.C. that has been in the news (GSA Admits Jumping the Gun with PLA Gift to Unions, 12/28).
The General Services Administration admitted it made a mistake when it placed a non-competitive, cost-raising, union-pleasing Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on a federal construction project in Washington before the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council issued its final ruling on President Obama’s executive order, which encourages the use of PLAs on all federal construction projects worth more than $25 million.
The $100 million Lafayette Building Modernization project is currently the only active federal government-mandated PLA.
Here’s a link to the project (See Section H, 12.02 and Section 16 page 24 on Section H for the PLA language).
After jumping the gun, GSA is now requiring contractors to submit two proposals – one subject to a PLA requirement and one that is not. The Associated Builders and Contractors criticized this highly unusual two-bid process, saying it puts even more obstacles before the 86 percent of local D.C. contractors, many minority owned, who are non-unionized.
UPDATE: On 2/4, the GSA cancelled this solicitation. Qualified local contractors submitted a bid protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) against the GSA’s dual bidding/PLA requirement. Similar to the outcome of the bid protest issued against the U.S. Department of Labor Job Corps Center in Manchester, N.H., the GSA opted to cancel the solicitation instead of move forward without a PLA.
However, according to the GSA solicitation cancellation notice, “GSA expects to re-issue the Lafayette Building Modernization solicitation in the near future.”
UPDATE: The GSA issued a new solicitation March 24, 2010, that removed the PLA mandate and permitted contractors to “voluntarily” submit bids with a PLA, without a PLA, or both:
“Offerors will be invited to submit a proposal subject to PLA requirements (a PLA offer), a proposal not subject to PLA requirements, or both. If a PLA proposal is accepted by GSA, the awardee shall be required to execute a Project labor Agreement (PLA) with one or more appropriate labor organizations for the term of the resulting contract.”
However, in the new technical evaluation section of contractors submitting a bid (Section M), the GSA awarded a 10 percent preference to contractors that voluntarily submitted a bid subject to a PLA. In some procurement scenarios and competitive construction markets, this needless bonus for bids subject to PLAs will result in a de facto PLA mandate.
This will lead to increased costs to taxpayers. The question is whether the added costs will be hidden or transparent.