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Redundant, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Executive Order Creates Bureaucratic Nightmare

The Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, chaired by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), and the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) today held a hearing to examine the effects of Executive Order 13673, which may deny employers federal contracts if they or their subcontractors violated or allegedly violated various federal labor laws. Witnesses and members discussed how the administration’s executive overreach is not only redundant, but how it will create a bureaucratic nightmare that impedes the operation of the federal government and results in less efficient services for taxpayers.

“We can all agree bad actors who deny workers basic protections, including wage and overtime protections, should not be awarded federal contracts funded with taxpayer dollars," noted Rep. Walberg. "The federal government has had a system in place for decades which, if used effectively, would deny federal contracts to bad actors. Rather than dealing with these contractors directly under the existing system, on July 31, 2014, President Obama signed an executive order adding a burdensome, redundant, and unnecessarily punitive layer onto the federal procurement system.”

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) addressed the administrative nightmare unleashed by the order, arguing “the result of this new process will be a significantly delayed contracting process that limits both healthy competition and the efficient delivery of goods to the U.S. government at a reasonable price to taxpayers … Rather than impose additional layers of bureaucracy the administration would be better served working with Congress and stakeholders to ensure the rules and regulations implementing our laws are modernized and streamlined."

Labor attorney Willis Goldsmith echoed these concerns: "the Alice in Wonderland-like structure of the Executive Order makes it completely unworkable in the real world … [it] is so Byzantine and riddled with uncertainties that it will be impossible to predict how it will be applied in the contracting universe, leading to gross uncertainties among the regulated community as to who will qualify for a contract or not."

"I have little doubt that if the Executive Order is implemented as written, purchases by the federal government will grind to a halt,” warned Angela Styles, former Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget. “Whether it is the purchase of equipment necessary for our warfighter, getting checks out the door to our senior citizens, or ensuring the safety of our food, none of it gets done without federal contractors ... Simply put, there are not enough hours in the day or employees in the federal government to implement this Executive Order.”

Summing up the sentiments of the panel, Stan Soloway, President and CEO of the Professional Services Council said, “[the Executive Order] poses a number of implementation challenges that renders it unworkable. It would also create a number of unintended consequences, and most notably, is completely unnecessary … this E.O. has too many undefined terms, too few objective standards, and too much potential for adversely affecting the federal procurement process.”

“We all share the same goal,” concluded Chairman Walberg, “however, rather than implement another layer of bureaucracy, the administration should work with Congress and stakeholders to use the existing system to crack down on bad actors and ensure the rights of America’s workers are protected.”

To learn more about today’s hearing, read witness testimony, or to watch an archived webcast, visit


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