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.
“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 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.”
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 will allow both agencies to test and evaluate the merits of such provisions and whether the existing competitive bidding process can be improved.
“The investments we make in local communities are truly transformational,” said Therese McMillan, Acting Administrator of the FTA. “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” 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 U.S. DOT published a related proposal in the Federal Register to modify the “common grant” rule geographic preference provision applied to its programs. The public is encouraged to review it and submit comments to the Comment Docket. The comment period will close 30 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.