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That is in line with AGC's implementation of long-range planning in the mid-1990s to maintain consistency through annual member leadership changes. New President Larry Gaskins, who took office at AGC's annual convention in Las Vegas March 18-22, says the group's focus will remain on legislative issues, improved payment practices and ratcheting up use of information technology tools.

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"We will work to sustain funding for federal construction programs, authorize legislation for highway and water programs and make the elimination of the ‘Death Tax' permanent," Gaskins told the 3,500 attendees. He is president of L.C. Gaskins Construction Co. Inc., Jacksonville, Fla.

AGC's executive committee approved formation of a Payment Task Force, which will "develop and recommend changes to improve payment practices within the industry" after reviewing prompt pay and disclosure acts in Arizona, California and other states, and studying tightening insurance and surety markets, says Gaskins. "We will then work together with the owner and specialty contracting groups to form a consensus in the industry to get rid of the bad apples that make it a practice to live off the float."

Information technology (IT) slowly is finding acceptance among AGC members, and the group is making it easier for contractors to use it. AGC's online contract documents software, called DocuBuilder, debuted in a limited form last year and now includes all of the association's contracts. It has more than 400 subscribers.

AGC is encouraging members to use eMeeting, a Web-based meeting and conference call service it has licensed from WebEx, a San Jose, Calif.-based vendor. In June, AGC will begin offering exclusive four-seat and eight-seat licenses. AGC's partnerships with Primavera Systems Inc., for use of its PrimeContract online collaboration service and iSqFt Internet plan rooms, are helping contractors adopt new IT solutions, says Gaskins. AGC is also offering three tiers of packages, the first of which is free, to contractors to develop their own company Websites.

AGC is also boosting its efforts to push creation of data exchange standards, including development of an extensible markup language (XML) schema for project documents. The association's executive committee has approved creation of a Data Exchange Standards Committee that will work with existing groups, including the International Alliance for Interoperability, software firms, owners, and other industry groups. "Information technology is becoming more critical every day," notes Gaskins.

he annual changing of the guard at the Associated General Contractors of America signals more of an acceleration of the initiatives already under way than a new outlook.