Federal agencies

Will Harwood Grants get the ax? Acosta talks compliance assistance during DOL budget hearing

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Photo: House Appropriations Committee

Washington – Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta on June 7 addressed the possible elimination of the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program while re-affirming the Department of Labor’s commitment to compliance assistance in his first appearance before with the House Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee.

Speaking about the proposed budget for fiscal year 2018, Acosta said DOL’s plan is to provide direct training in place of awarding the Harwood Grants, which provide funding to nonprofit organizations for the creation of worker safety training and education. Cutting the program would save about $10.5 million, DOL stated in its initial request.

“We’re going to do more with less, and we have to do more with less,” Acosta said. “We’re going to focus the department on its core mission by making smart investments in programs that work. The budget makes hard choices, and they are hard, but they’re responsible choices that have to be made. Americans want good and safe jobs. The department is here to support Americans’ desire to gain and hold these jobs.”

In response, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the subcommittee’s ranking member, said, “You cannot do more with less – you can only do less with less. In my view, that’s what this budget proposal will do: less for American workers.”

DOL faces a potential $2.4 billion cut for FY 2018, but is proposing to increase compliance assistance for its worker protection agencies by $16.6 million, including $4 million to hire specialists. Part of that $4 million will go to aid OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs, which Acosta called “particularly successful.”

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