Worker-Verification Plan Has Wide Scope
The notice fleshes out an executive order President Bush issued on June 6 directing contractors to use the E-Verify system to check workers’ status. Marco Giamberardino, senior director of the Associated General Contractors’ federal and heavy construction division, says the proposed rule contains specifics that the Bush order lacked. He says AGC has questions about the plan, including what it means for materials suppliers.
E. Colette Nelson, American Subcontractors Association executive vice president, says ASA doesn’t think E-Verify will achieve the administration’s goals in the most efficient and effective way. Nelson also says, “The inclusion of subcontractors, particularly at the $3,000 amount, is gratuitous.” She says the executive order does not require such a threshold, nor is it comparable to levels under other contracting programs.
The proposed mandates would apply to solicitations issued and contracts awarded after a final rule’s effective date. That date isn’t known yet; comments on the proposal will be accepted through Aug. 11 and will take weeks to review. But Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says officials are looking forward to having the program “up and running later this year.”
The compliance cost for the proposal is estimated at $550.3 million over 10 years, 98% of it borne by employers. Start-up and training are the main items, pegged at $308.3 million. “We really do think that they underestimate the impact on employers, particularly with how error-prone the [E-Verify] system is,” Nelson says. But Chertoff says E-Verify “has been a tremendous success,” with about 1,000 companies joining weekly.
E-Verify is a pilot program, slated to expire in November. Giamberardino says AGC’s discussions on Capitol Hill indicate there is support in Congress to reauthorize E-Verify “in some capacity.”