The Effectiveness of the Department of Labor's Office of Construction Industry Services

Gao ID: AFMD-82-28 December 18, 1981

The overall objectives of the Office of Construction Industry Services (OCIS) are to improve productivity in the construction industry and to reduce the costs of construction services procured by Federal, State, and local governments. Approaches have centered on reducing the seasonality of public construction and improving cooperation among labor, management, and government in construction procurement. GAO was asked to report on the effectiveness of OCIS in meeting its objectives and its costs and benefits.

GAO found that OCIS, through coordinating committees in five cities, has apparently been effective in reducing seasonality and improving cooperation, although it is difficult to show a direct causal relationship between OCIS sponsored activities and these improvements. The program's $1.1 million budget seems modest in light of the tangible and intangible positive results attributed to it. If Federal funding of OCIS and its activities ends as scheduled, participants do not believe that the activities can be effectively continued. To reduce the seasonal nature of construction, OCIS and its committees have improved public agency construction planning and promoted winter construction. OCIS has produced bid calendars showing Federal, State, and local government construction plans in five cities. It has encouraged the rescheduling of indoor repair work and promoted the use of cold weather building technology to include new building materials and worksite heating. Agency evaluators have found some leveling in construction demand and more winter construction in the five cities. Leveling the demand for construction services improves productivity by permitting a more efficient use of construction industry resources, particularly manpower resources. Regular meetings of the construction coordinating committees has promoted labor, management, and government cooperation in construction procurement. Due to committee involvement, delays in public construction have been avoided and dollar savings have resulted.

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