Democrats, labor groups condemn move to reverse contractor ethics rule

A group of prominent Democratic lawmakers condemned the Bush administration on Wednesday for suspending a rule that sets ethics standards for government contractors. On Tuesday, the administration published an interim rule in the Federal Register imposing a 270-day stay on the controversial regulation, which went into effect one day before President Clinton left office. The administration also published a proposed rule seeking comment on whether the rule should be revoked. Speaking at a Capitol Hill news conference held by the AFL-CIO, Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said the Bush administration's action would harm law-abiding contractors and blasted the administration for suspending the rule without public comment. Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., and Reps. George Miller, D-Calif., John Conyers, D-Mich. and Henry Waxman, D-Calif, echoed his comments. "Taxpayer dollars should not be supporting contractors that have consistently broken the law," said Lieberman, the ranking member on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. Lieberman said he is investigating the process by which the rule has been suspended. While the administration's action formally suspended the regulation, many agencies previously gained an exemption from the rule by invoking a clause of the Federal Acquisition Regulation that allows agencies to exempt themselves from new regulations. Lieberman criticized this process as "likely unlawful" in a Feb. 20 letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels. OMB referred the matter to the General Services Administration, which has not yet responded to Lieberman, according to a spokesperson for the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. Championed by labor and environmental groups, the rule has drawn vigorous opposition from the business community since Vice President Al Gore first proposed it in a 1997 speech to the AFL-CIO. The proposed rules aim to keep companies from winning federal contracts if they are found to have poor labor relations or ethically problematic practices. Representatives of numerous labor and environmental organizations accompanied the democratic lawmakers Wednesday. Participants ranged from the Sierra Club to the National Partnership for Women and Families. The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association, a contractor group, also spoke out against the suspension of the rule. Interested parties have until June 4 to submit comments on the proposed revocation of the rule. Written comments should be sent to: General Services Administration,
FAR Secretariat (MVP), 1800 F Street, N.W., Room 4035,
ATTN: Laurie Duarte, Washington, D.C. 20405 Parties may also email comments to: Experts expect the administration to issue a final rule on the matter by the end of this summer.
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.