Contracting By Executive Order

By September 9, 2015Human Resources

By Joe Trauger and Amanda Woods

President Obama used the Labor Day holiday this year as an opportunity to announce yet another initiative he cannot get through Congress by placing the burden and impact of bad policy on the backs of businesses wishing to contract with the federal government. While the announcement was not a surprise, after all this is something he’s done more of than any previous president in history – use the federal contracting process as a laboratory of bad ideas in labor policy – it demonstrates the ineptitude of an administration so driven to do what sounds good to the heart rather than what is actually good practice.

The President’s latest Executive Order would require all federal contractors to provide at least 7 days of paid leave under similar conditions as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Unfortunately, we have seen this pattern with the President, time and time again.  When a policy proposal cannot move through Congress, with a stroke of a pen the President exercises the wide, and some may say abusive, discretion over federal contractors and forces upon them what otherwise cannot be achieved. This appears to be done with little thought about whether it may be burdensome or even necessary. For instance, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for federal contractors.  While there has been much talk about whether there should be an increase, the bills in both the House and Senate have failed. Rather than accept the will of Congress, the Administration thrusts the issue upon federal contractors, some of which will not be able to absorb or adjust accordingly due to market constraints.

It is not just minimum wage, blacklisting, or this latest policy on paid sick leave. President Obama has issued no less than 11 Executive Orders placing additional requirements on businesses who wish to contract with the federal government. These new requirements cover many aspects of the day-to-day operations of a business and have no bearing on whether the federal contracting process is fair, efficient, or yields the best results for the American taxpayer. In the end, this latest action will have little impact on larger federal contractors who are extremely likely to offer paid leave already. No, the greatest impact will be felt by the small businesses who are trying to offer their products and services to a government that more and more often refuses to see that bad ideas have consequences – or worse, a government that doesn’t care whether there are consequences at all.

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