The Obama administration's second-term frustrations are getting the better of common sense. On July 31, President Obama issued an executive order to "crack down on federal contractors who put workers' safety and hard-earned pay at risk," requiring them to self-report recent violations. The goal is to make federal construction contractors safer and more law-abiding, but it may simply overwhelm contracting officers with a surge of new data and saddle federal contractors with burdensome requirements. The Associated Builders and Contractors is already talking lawsuit, earning the open-shop group a scolding from The New York Times, which asked if ABC seeks a "right to cheat and maim?"
When implemented, the order will fall heavily on a sector that is only a small part of the problem. Underpinning the order is research conducted last year by the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that showed federal contractors account for a big chunk of the federal safety and wage penalties levied in recent years. Significantly, of all the firms cited, only two engineering and construction contractors, URS Corp. and Insituform Technologies, ranked among the committee's top violators, from 2007 to 2012, of the Fair Labor Standards Act or safety rules.