After securing the funding for new barracks to alleviate severe overcrowding at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) is now pressing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build the project under a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) in order to ensure efficiency and lower costs. Forty percent of rooms at the prestigious military academy are currently housing three students despite being built to lodge two. The proposed new construction would house 650 of West Point’s 4,400 cadets. Hinchey hopes a PLA will help employ construction workers locally in the region.
“PLAs have been effective in ensuring that projects are completed in a timely manner and within budget. Partnership agreements with the Hudson Valley Building and Construction Trades Council have helped to ensure the highest quality of work on local construction projects,” Hinchey wrote in a letter sent on June 12 to Lt. General Thomas P. Bostick, who is the Chief of Engineers for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“Furthermore, an increased use of local labor on construction projects at West Point would certainly foster a more active partnership between the USMA and the local communities in my district, where many members of the Academy’s staff live…I understand the urgent need for this project, and I know that it is critically important to sustaining the morale and quality of life of the cadets. This is why I strongly supported the funding for this project as a member of the House Appropriations Committee. I am confident that the use of a PLA will help to ensure that this project is completed effectively and efficiently while also strengthening the relationship between the Academy and our local communities.”
The use of a PLA would go far to comply with an Executive Order, signed by President Obama in February of 2009, that encourages the use of PLAs on federally funded construction projects. The EO reversed the Bush era policy of eschewing the agreements which package diversity requirements with safety and wage standards.
President Obama deserves extra credit on this project. When he requested funding for the barracks in his proposed budget it became the first time in 40 years that a President had done so.