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Government contracts went to companies cited for wage and hour, health and safety violations

The GAO issued a report showing that, in 2009, the federal government gave contracts to companies that, between 2005 and 2009, had been cited for wage and health and safety violations by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The GAO reports that 25 of the 50 largest WHD wage assessments made between 2005 and 2009 were made against 20 companies that received federal contracts in 2009. The report also indicates that, in 2009, the federal government awarded contracts to seven companies that had received eight of the 50 largest health and safety penalties assessed between 2005 and 2009.

The numbers may actually be higher. The GAO cautions that, because its analysis was limited only to the 50 biggest assessments and penalties, the federal government may have awarded contracts to more companies that it had previously cited. The GAO investigation centered on 15 federal contractors cited for violating federal health and safety, and wage-hour laws, as well as for violations of the National Labor Relations Act. More than $6 billion in government contracts went to these companies in 2009 and several companies were also cited for hiring undocumented workers, for violating environmental standards, and for Medicare and Medicaid fraud.