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The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) yesterday announced plans to extend the comment period for a rule change that would allow federally funded transit agencies to implement geographic-based hiring preferences.Existing federal contracting rules have traditionally prohibited these and other preferences not related to work performance, according to an American Public Transportation Association (APTA) regulatory update.The comment period will now run until May 6.In a letter to USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, the Jobs to Move America (JMA) coalition — which comprises various labor, civil rights, academic and other groups — applauded the proposed rule change, but also urged the USDOT to clarify language regarding targeted hiring programs for disadvantaged or low-income workers in its final rule.While agencies currently have the flexibility to implement these kind of targeted hiring programs, JMA Director Madeline Janis said the rule is not widely understood by USDOT grantees. Meanwhile, the Federal Transit Administration announced yesterday that it had opened public comment on interim policy guidance for its Capital Investment Grant program. The new policy guidance would provide a greater level of detail about the methods for applying the project justification and local financial commitment criteria for rating and evaluating various improvement projects, according to APTA.It would also provide additional detail about the procedures for getting through these steps.The 30-day comment period for this proposal will end on May 8.
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