Local Hire Pilot Program Relaunched by Transportation Department

  • Reinstates intitiative Trump administration scrapped
  • Comes as Buttigieg works to sell Biden infrastructure package

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said his department will reinstate and expand a pilot program allowing local hiring provisions that were cut by the Trump administration.

Both the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration will soon launch programs allowing state agencies to exercise options, such as using geographic or economic preferences, when recruiting workers for infrastructure projects, according to a department release. The pilot programs, which are set to last four years, are designed to provide financial and career opportunities for disadvantaged communities where construction jobs have often been outsourced.

“As we invest in world-class infrastructure for Americans, we want to make sure that our investments create jobs for people in the communities where the projects are located,” Buttigieg said in a statement.

The launch of these pilot programs comes as the Biden administration is working to sell its $2.25 trillion infrastructure package, and is emphasizing more equitable hiring. The administration has set equity as a goal, and proposed investing in local hire in its infrastructure package.

Local Hiring Gains Steam as Biden Pushes Infrastructure, Equity

Recipients of FHWA and FTA federal funds will be eligible for the local-hire pilot programs, which will appear in the Federal Register later this week.

The Obama administration launched a similar pilot program in 2015. When the Trump administration withdrew the pilot, federal policy reverted to a Reagan-era Office of Management and Budget prohibition on geographic hiring preferences. That regulation restricted recipients of federal grants from including provisions that require contractors to hire workers from certain communities.

The move to reinstate this program comes amid a push from transportation officials and congressional Democrats, who have been urging Buttigieg to reinstate the initiative. There is also momentum for the White House to expand the scope of hiring mandates to allow other federal agencies to support local jobs—but that would be a more complex and time-consuming process.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna Byington in Washington at lbyington@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at hrothman@bgov.com; Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergindustry.com

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