On Tuesday, September 20, 2016, the DC City Council Committee will vote on the Procurement Integrity, Transparency, and Accountability Emergency Amendment Act of 2016. This emergency, which is being introduced by Council Chair Phil Mendelson, is an emergency version of the Procurement Integrity, Transparency, and Accountability Amendment Act of 2015 which was passed via an amendment in the nature of a substitute (ANS) in July of 2016. The legislation as introduced in September of 2015 would reform the District’s procurement process. This included enhancing transparency in the contract procurement processes, changing the City Council’s review requirements and establishing an Office of the Ombudsman for Contracting. In addition, the legislation would have also made it illegal for any company doing business or planning to do business with the District to make any form of political contributions to an elected official or their constituent service funds.

As part of the ANS, Chairman Mendelson added language that would require the Mayor, as part of solicitation for a construction contract with an estimated value of $75 Million or more to require the signing of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA). The language as adopted would however allow the Mayor to waive the use of the requirements by issuing a determination and findings that the use of a PLA would (a) not meet the preset requirements for a project or (b) that the PLA would be contrary to the interest of the District. As part of the legislation, the committee also adopted the Fiscal Impact Statement (FIS) prepared by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer which stated the new proposal would increase the District’s contracting cost by at least 4%. It further went on to state the District did not have funds in the budget for 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020 to cover the cost of this legislation. Based on this, the chairman made the implementation of the PLA language subject to appropriations which the Mayor could avoid during subsequent budget cycles.

If the emergency as introduced is adopted by the DC City Council the law would take effect upon receiving the signature of the Mayor for a term not to exceed 90 days while the city waits for the legislation to pass its congressional review. The legislation was signed by the mayor at the end of August and has been transmitted to congress and is expected to clear congress at the end of November. While the law would take effect for 90 days, the city still would not be able to impose the use of a PLA on any project which has already received funding; the Council would be forced to find additional funds in the city budget to cover the project cost increases. In addition Mayor Bowser would still have the ability to remove the PLA mandate if she deems that it is not in the best interest of the District.