D.C. and the DMV’s Past Government-Mandated PLA Projects Have Failed to Deliver on Promises

Despite claims to the contrary by PLA proponents, advantages and disadvantages of dating sites federal, city and local government-mandated PLA projects have suffered increased costs, delays, accidents and poor local hiring outcomes.

In 2010, the General Services Administration (GSA) awarded a $52.3 million contract to a general contractor to build the Lafayette federal building in Washington, D.C., but then forced the contractor to sign a change order and build it with a union-favoring PLA that cost taxpayers an additional $3.3 million.

In 2010, the GSA Headquarters at 1800 F St. in Washington, D.C., suffered a 107-day delay and millions of dollars in cost increases as a result of failed PLA negotiations by labor unions.

In 2013, data collected by Del. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D) on federal projects subject to PLA mandates located in the District of Columbia demonstrated that PLAs delivered worse local hiring outcomes than other large-scale federal projects not subject to a PLA.

Research from 2009 found the PLA on the budget-busting Washington Nationals stadium failed to deliver on promises. Just 26 percent of journeymen hours went to D.C. residents, rather than the 50 percent unions promised in the PLA. Half of the contractors involved in the project hired no new apprentices and of the companies that hired new trainees, only 17 of 56 met the PLA requirement that 100 percent of new apprenticeships go to D.C. residents.

Local hiring data collected in 2012 by the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) for Phase 1 of the $2.8 billion Silver Line project in Northern Virginia found subcontractors performing work without a PLA hired a greater percentage and number of local workers than the prime contractor performing under a voluntary PLA. Bids for Package A for Phase 2 of the Silver Line were 16 percent to 27 percent below the $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion estimate following the removal of a MWAA PLA mandate and PLA preference.

In 2014, the The Baltimore Sun reported that a union-favoring PLA required by Prince George’s County on the construction of the library in Laurel, Md., was scrapped because it caused delays, increased costs, and reduced competition from local contractors and construction workers.

In 2012, bids for a fire station construction project in Brandywine, Md., that was estimated to cost $2.9 million came in at $4.2 million – a 41 percent increase over the estimated cost of the project. The fire station was subject to a PLA mandated by Prince George’s County.

In 2003, the District of Columbia Convention Center finished 40 percent over budget, used out of town contractors and labor, failed to meet LSDBE contractor and local labor participation targets, and experienced an accident when the roof collapsed, which investigators said was due to the improper installation of a 180 foot steel truss by union ironworkers employed by a contractor from Texas.

In 2001, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge’s superstructure contract was temporarily subjected to a union-favoring PLA requirement by former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening (D). Originally estimated to cost $450 million to $500 million, in December 2001 the Wilson Bridge’s superstructure contract received just one bid at a price of $860 million – $370 million more than engineering estimates, (a 78 percent cost overrun). Eventually, the Wilson Bridge superstructure project was rebid without the government-mandated PLA into three smaller bid packages. In Ocetober 2002, multiple bids were received on each of the smaller contracts, and the winning bids came in significantly below the engineering estimates.  While the bridge was delayed more than a year for re-bidding, it was eventually completed below the original budget and completed on time, free from a government-mandated PLA.

In contrast, hundreds of PLA-free private and public projects, such as the district’s recent successful completion of the $376 million 11th Street Bridge project, demonstrate PLA mandates are not needed to deliver a project on time and on budget, while creating jobs for local companies and construction professionals.

In 2010, the D.C. Council considered the District Resident Employment and Trade Stimulus Act of 2010 (Bill 18-650), which would have mandated PLAs on all government-assisted projects costing more than $200,000 in Washington, D.C. The fight over this bill received considerable media attention and additional coverage at TheTruthAboutPLAs.com. Following a June 30 hearing, community outrage, a new report and a damaging fiscal impact statement from the D.C. CFO, bill 18-650 eventually died.

The pro-PLA language contained in Section 14 of The Procurement Integrity, Transparency and Accountability Amendment Act of 2015 (Bill 21-334) also needs to die.

Click here to write or tweet your D.C. Council members TODAY in opposition to Section 14 of Bill 21-334.