STATEMENT: Neera Tanden on the Administration’s Executive Action to Hold Government Contractors Accountable for Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces

Washington, D.C. — Tomorrow, President Barack Obama will sign an executive order to ensure that companies comply with workplace laws before they are able to receive new federal contracts. CAP has long advocated for solutions to ensure that only responsible, law-abiding companies are able to receive these government contracts. Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress, released the following statement reacting to the news:

“Safe workplaces and fair pay should not be luxuries for America’s workforce. Yet today, far too many companies with long track records of violating workplace laws are continuing to receive federal contracts with no strings attached. By demanding that companies clean up their acts and comply with labor laws before they are awarded federal contracts, President Obama is taking a momentous step toward protecting the millions of Americans employed by firms that contract with our government.

“This executive order is also a win for America’s taxpayers, because contracting with companies that have egregious records of workplace violations frequently wastes taxpayer dollars and delivers low-quality services to the government. Law-abiding businesses will also celebrate this development, as they will no longer be put at a competitive disadvantage compared to the bad actors, who reduce costs by paying wages that are lower than required by law and cutting corners on workplace safety.”

The federal government spends hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars each year contracting out everything from janitorial services to the design and manufacture of sophisticated weapons systems. However, research reveals that government contractors are often among the worst violators of workplace safety and wage laws. Almost 30 percent of the top violators between fiscal years 2007 and 2012 have current federal contracts. Previous CAP research shows that one in four government contractors that commit egregious workplace violations also provide bad value for taxpayers.

Related resources:

Experts available to comment:

  • Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress
  • David Madland, Managing Director, Economic Policy; Director, American Worker Project
  • Karla Walter, Associate Director, American Worker Project

In addition to CAP experts, we also have several workers and family members available for comment.

To arrange an interview, please contact  Katie Peters at or 202.741.6285.