The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) released a warning on Tuesday that a pilot program from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), which would incentivize local hiring practices, may lead to unintended consequences.
According to ARTBA, this pilot program could potentially drive up the costs of projects and decrease competitiveness in the markets where they take place. They also stated that women and minority workers could be hired less frequently as a result.
Focus on local hiring bids has potential to be a factor in construction layoffs and could possibly lead to hiring unqualified individuals based solely on geographic location, the association stated.
The association also claimed that this limitation could weaken current regulatory measures ensuring that more positions be granted to women and minority groups.
USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the pilot program in March. Through the program, local transportation authorities would initiate hiring preferences with the approval of the Federal Highway Administration. Previously, such measures were barred and required a low bid process for all federal projects. Foxx posited that this would allow more "disadvantaged workers" to be in consideration for federal project construction employment in their community.
ARTBA represents the design and construction industry on a national and industry-wide basis to members of Congress, government officials, media personnel and the general public.