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ACEC Advocacy Wins, Expectations, and Challenges Focus of New Podcast

ACEC Executive Vice President Steve Hall and Communications and Marketing SVP Jeff Urbanchuk recently sat down for a discussion about some of the Council’s key wins and gains in 2023, and what’s on the horizon for what is expected to be a very busy 2024.

Hall noted that the Council saw in 2023 real progress on both the legislative and regulatory fronts, racking up significant accomplishments on what have been long-standing issues for ACEC. One such accomplishment was language included in the Defense Authorization Bill that would lift the cap on design fees for work with the Corps of Engineers and Department of Defense agencies. This change bumps the ceiling from 6 percent to 10 percent.

“It’s not a perfect fix,” he said. “At a time when QBS is how firms are procured, there shouldn’t be any cap on design fees. But this is a step in the right direction. It will give firms a little more room to negotiate.”

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In another key accomplishment, ACEC-backed language was included in a spending bill related to Ukraine. “We all hope and pray that the war in Ukraine comes to an end in 2024,” Hall said. “And when that happens, there is going to be a substantial reconstruction process. We expect that the American engineering industry is going to play a significant role in that reconstruction effort, and we want to make sure that effort is organized.”

Closer to home, Hall pointed to progress on another major ACEC issue: the FAR credits clause as it relates to PPP loans. The Council has gotten legislation through the House three times, only to be stymied in the Senate. As a workaround, Hall spoke of a parallel effort to try to mitigate the issue for small firms, noting that the Senate Transportation Subcommittee included ACEC-submitted language that would help blunt the impact of the mandate.

“This language isn’t going to solve the problem,” Hall said, “but we are hoping it is going to be part of the solution.”

Workforce issues and immigration, as well as the fight to repeal the R&D amortization mandate topped the list of priorities in 2024. On the former, Hall said, there remains a lot of work to be done. For ACEC, workforce and immigration reform are inextricably linked, but the focus of lawmakers continues to be less about attracting talent and more about the Southern border. Lawmakers, Hall asserted, haven’t yet grasped the bigger picture. “They’re not really thinking broader about immigration as a component of our competitiveness strategy,” he said.

As for the R&D fight – better news in the offing. Hall shared that there seems to be genuine appetite on the Hill for a fix to be passed. “I’m guardedly optimistic that it could be done early this year,” he said. He went on to discuss some key successes of ACEC’s grassroots campaign, which launched late last year.   More information on the effort can be found at

And all of this, of course, will take place against the backdrop of what is certain to be a bruising presidential campaign. Still, Hall said, ACEC has both the resources and the resolve to capitalize on last year’s progress – and to build on it. He pointed to the ACEC/PAC’s record fundraising year as a critical component of the Council’s success. “And for that I have to thank our members, because [their contributions] give us the resources we need to win,” Hall said.

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January 12, 2024



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