Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today announced figures on D.C. residents employed at the St. Elizabeths Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters construction project in Ward 8, and reported on her unannounced visit to the site Friday. The current construction on the Coast Guard headquarters there is winding down. According to the General Services Administration (GSA), of the two large contractors still working on the Ward 8 site, Clark Construction continues to employ D.C. residents above their 10% representation in the region, while Grunley Construction is below the mark set by Clark, which Norton uses to gauge the skilled labor available in the District. Clark's cumulative total of D.C. residents employed at the site is 21% where Grunley is 7%. Norton, who plans to hold a roundtable hearing on federal construction hiring in the District in August, has been informed of the new hiring of D.C. residents in progress by Grunley, and has this progress under close watch.
"We continue to expect good-faith efforts by contractors and subcontractors to hire residents on construction projects in the District until the jobs are done," Norton said. "It is insulting to workers to be cast as onlookers while federal construction, paid for with taxpayer funds, occurs in their hometown." Close monitoring and monthly reports have brought results at the Ward 8 site. As work on this site slows because of the pace of federal funding, Norton is also focusing on nine other federal construction projects in D.C. paid for with stimulus funds. The August hearing will call workers and contractors from those sites as well.
On Norton's visit to the Ward 8 site, anecdotal evidence from conversations with workers showed good-faith hiring of D.C. residents in significant numbers. Norton encountered construction workers who said they lived in D.C. and were working for Stromberg, Shirley Contracting LLC, Manganaro Dynalectric, and Clark Construction. Norton's unannounced trips to federal construction sites in D.C. are not intended to count workers. Monthly reports to Norton's office serve that purpose. "Our unannounced visits allow us to talk to workers, learn of pay and conditions, of methods of recruitment, of their views of whether D.C. residents are on the site, and of their skill backgrounds," Norton said. "We go unannounced because our visits are not official inspections or "show and tell' guided tours. We are interested in D.C. workers and hearing from them on the job."
Norton also said that she was impressed with progress on the completion of the Coast Guard headquarters, the first of several office buildings in the complex that will house more than 14,000 federal employees. The work is proceeding rapidly on the interior of the building. House and Senate passage of the President's funding request ensures that the first federal employees to work east of the Anacostia River will be in the building by 2014.
Norton, who is the ranking Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, got over $1 billion in GSA funding in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which is still being used on the DHS site, as well as modernizing and rehabilitating federal buildings throughout the city.