H. Rept. 104-639 - 104th Congress (1995-1996)

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House Report 104-639 - SAVINGS IN CONSTRUCTION ACT OF 1996

[House Report 104-639]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]



104th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 2d Session                                                     104-639
_______________________________________________________________________


 
                  SAVINGS IN CONSTRUCTION ACT OF 1996

                                _______
                                

 June 26, 1996.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

   Mr. Walker, from the Committee on Science, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 2779]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Science, to whom was referred the bill (H.R. 
2779) to provide for soft-metric conversion, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same, report favorably thereon 
with amendments and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
   I. Amendment.......................................................2
  II. Purpose of the Bill.............................................4
 III. Background and Need for Legislation.............................4
  IV. Summary of Hearing..............................................5
   V. Committee Actions...............................................7
  VI. Summary of Major Provisions of the Bill.........................8
 VII. Section-By-Section Analysis.....................................8
      Section 1. Short Title..........................................8
      Section 2. Findings.............................................8
      Section 3. Definitions..........................................8
      Section 4. Implementation Exceptions............................8
      Section 5. Ombudsman............................................9
VIII. Committee Views.................................................9
  IX. Committee Cost Estimate........................................11
   X. Effect of Legislation on Inflation.............................12
  XI. Oversight Findings and Recommendations.........................12
 XII. Oversight Findings and Recommendations by the Committee on 
      Government Reform and Oversight................................12
XIII. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported..........12
 XIV. Committee Recommendations......................................14
  XV. Additional Views...............................................15
 XVI. Proceedings of Subcommittee Markup.............................17
XVII. Proceedings of Full Committee Markup...........................26

                              I. Amendment

  The amendments are as follows:
  Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu 
thereof the following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Savings in Construction Act of 
1996''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    The Congress finds the following:
          (1) The Metric Conversion Act of 1975 was enacted in order to 
        set forth the policy of the United States to convert to the 
        metric system. Section 3 of that Act requires that each Federal 
        agency use the metric system of measurement in its 
        procurements, grants and other business related activities, 
        unless that use is likely to cause significant cost or loss of 
        markets to United States firms, such as when foreign 
        competitors are producing competing products in non-metric 
        units.
          (2) Currently, many Federal agencies are requiring as a 
        condition of obtaining Federal construction contracts that all 
        bidders must agree to use products measured in round metric 
        units, materials which are known as ``hard-metric'' products. 
        This can require retooling, substantial capitalization costs, 
        and other expensive production changes for some suppliers to 
        physically change the size of the product.
          (3) This ``hard-metric'' conversion requirement has sometimes 
        been imposed without appropriate regard to whether that method 
        is impractical or likely to cause significant costs or a loss 
        of markets to United States firms.
          (4) Some United States businesses that manufacture basic 
        construction products suffer harm by being forced to convert to 
        hard-metric production, or by being foreclosed from effectively 
        bidding on Federal or federally assisted projects.
          (5) This ``hard-metric'' conversion requirement may place 
        domestic producers at a competitive disadvantage with respect 
        to foreign producers; may reduce the number of companies that 
        may compete for contracts with the Federal Government; and may 
        force manufacturers to maintain double inventories of similar 
        but incompatible products.
          (6) This ``hard-metric'' conversion requirement has 
        unnecessarily raised the cost to the Government of some 
        lighting and concrete masonry products and there is consensus 
        that relief is in order.
          (7) While the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 currently 
        provides an exception to metric usage when impractical or when 
        it will cause economic inefficiencies, there is need for 
        ombudsmen and procedures to ensure the effective implementation 
        of the exceptions.
          (8) The changes made by this Act will advance the goals of 
        the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 while eliminating significant 
        problems in its implementation.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

  Section 4 of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 (15 U.S.C. 205c) is 
amended--
          (1) by redesignating paragraphs (2), (3), and (4) as 
        paragraphs (3), (6), and (7), respectively;
          (2) by inserting after paragraph (1) the following new 
        paragraph:
          ``(2) `converted product' means a material or product that is 
        produced as a result of a hard-metric conversion;'';
          (3) by inserting after paragraph (3) the following new 
        paragraphs:
          ``(4) `hard-metric' means measurement, design, and 
        manufacture using the metric system of measurement, but does 
        not include measurement, design, and manufacture using English 
        system measurement units which are subsequently reexpressed in 
        the metric system of measurement;
          ``(5) `hard-metric conversion' means a conversion that 
        requires, in addition to the expression of the linear 
        dimensions of a product under the metric system of measurement, 
        a physical change in the size of that product relative to the 
        size of that product established under the system of English 
        measurements in production practices of the appropriate 
        industry;'';
          (4) by striking ``and'' at the end of paragraph (6), as so 
        redesignated by paragraph (1) of this section;
          (5) by striking the period at the end of paragraph (7), as so 
        redesignated by paragraph (1) of this section, and inserting in 
        lieu thereof ``; and''; and
          (6) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
          ``(8) `small business' has the meaning given the term `small 
        business concern' in section 3 of the Small Business Act (15 
        U.S.C. 632).''.

SEC. 4. IMPLEMENTATION EXCEPTIONS.

  The Metric Conversion Act of 1975 (15 U.S.C. 205a et seq.) is amended 
by inserting after section 11 the following new section:
  ``Sec. 12. (a) In carrying out the policy set forth in section 3 
(with particular emphasis on the policy set forth in paragraph (2) of 
that section) a Federal agency may require that specifications for 
structures or systems of concrete masonry be expressed under the metric 
system of measurement, but may not require that concrete masonry units 
be converted products.
  ``(b) In carrying out the policy set forth in section 3 (with 
particular emphasis on the policy set forth in paragraph (2) of that 
section) a Federal agency may not require that lighting fixtures be 
converted products unless the predominant voluntary industry consensus 
standards are hard-metric.''.

SEC. 5. OMBUDSMAN.

  Section 12 of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975, as added by section 
4 of this Act, is further amended by adding at the end the following 
new subsection:
  ``(c)(1) The head of each executive agency that awards construction 
contracts shall designate a senior agency official to serve as a 
construction metrication ombudsman who shall be responsible for 
reviewing and responding to complaints from prospective bidders, 
subcontractors, suppliers, or their designated representatives related 
to--
          ``(A) guidance or regulations issued by the agency on the use 
        of the metric system of measurement in construction contracts; 
        and
          ``(B) the use of the metric system of measurement for 
        products or materials required for incorporation in individual 
        construction projects.
The construction metrication ombudsman shall be independent of the 
contracting officer for construction contracts.
  ``(2) The ombudsman shall be responsible for ensuring that the agency 
is not implementing the metric system of measurement in a manner that 
is impractical or is likely to cause significant inefficiencies or loss 
of markets to United States firms in violation of the policy stated in 
section 3(2), or is otherwise inconsistent with guidance issued by the 
Secretary of Commerce in consultation with the Interagency Council on 
Metric Policy.
  ``(3) The ombudsman shall respond to each complaint in writing within 
30 days and make a recommendation to the head of the executive agency 
for an appropriate resolution thereto. In such a recommendation, the 
ombudsman shall consider--
          ``(A) the availability of converted products and hard metric 
        production capacity of United States firms, or lack thereof;
          ``(B) retooling costs and capital investment impacts;
          ``(C) the impact on small business;
          ``(D) the impact on trade;
          ``(E) the impact on competition for Federal contracts;
          ``(F) the impact on jobs;
          ``(G) the impact on the competitiveness of United States 
        firms; and
          ``(H) the cost to the Federal Government.
  ``(4) After the head of the agency has rendered a decision regarding 
a recommendation of the ombudsman, the ombudsman shall be responsible 
for communicating the decision to all appropriate policy, design, 
planning, procurement, and notifying personnel in the agency. The 
ombudsman shall conduct appropriate monitoring as required to ensure 
the decision is implemented, and may submit further recommendations, as 
needed. The head of the agency's decision on the ombudsman's 
recommendations, and any supporting documentation, shall be provided to 
affected parties and made available to the public in a timely 
manner.''.

    Amend the title so as to read:

    A bill to provide for appropriate implementation of the Metric 
Conversion Act of 1975 in Federal construction projects, and for other 
purposes.

                        II. Purpose of the Bill

    The purpose of the bill is to provide for appropriate 
implementation of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 in federal 
construction projects.

              III. Background and Need for the Legislation

    The Metric Conversion Act of 1975 (P.L. 94-168), as amended 
by the 1988 Omnibus Trade Act (P.L. 100-418), was enacted in 
order to set forth the policy of the United States government 
regarding the metric system. Section 3 of that Act requires 
that each federal agency use the metric system of measurement 
in its procurements, grants and other business related 
activities, unless that use is likely to cause significant cost 
or loss of markets to United States firms, such as when foreign 
competitors are producing competing products in non-metric 
units.
    Currently, many federal agencies are requiring as a 
condition of obtaining federal construction contracts that all 
bidders must agree to use products measured in round metric 
units, materials which are known as ``hard-metric'' products. 
This can require retooling, substantial capitalization costs, 
and other expensive production changes for some suppliers to 
physically change the size of the product.
    This ``hard-metric'' conversion requirement has sometimes 
been imposed without appropriate regard to whether that method 
is impractical or likely to cause significant costs or a loss 
of markets to United States firms.
    Some United States businesses that manufacture basic 
construction products suffer harm by being forced to convert to 
hard-metric production, or by being foreclosed from effectively 
bidding on Federal or federally assisted projects.
    This ``hard-metric'' conversion requirement may place 
domestic producers at a competitive disadvantage with respect 
to foreign producers; may reduce the number of companies that 
may compete for contracts with the Federal Government; and may 
force manufacturers to maintain double inventories of similar, 
but incompatible products.
    This ``hard-metric'' conversion requirement has also 
unnecessarily raised the cost to the Government of some 
lighting and concrete masonry products, and there is a 
consensus that relief is in order for these industries and the 
taxpayer.
    While the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 currently provides 
an exception to metric usage when impractical or when it will 
cause economic inefficiencies, there is need for ombudsmen and 
procedures to ensure the effective implementation of the 
exceptions.
    The changes made by this Act will advance the goals of the 
Metric Conversion Act of 1975 while eliminating significant 
problems in its implementation.
    While estimates of savings vary widely, one GAO analysis of 
several projects indicates that hard metric conversion can cost 
15-20% more to implement than if soft metric conversion, which 
simply requires that building materials be measured in metric 
units instead of being manufactured in round metric dimensions.

                         IV. Summary of Hearing

    On May 16, 1996, the Subcommittee on Technology held a 
hearing entitled, ``Proposed Amendments to the Metric 
Conversion Act.'' The Subcommittee reviewed H.R. 2779, the 
Savings in Construction Act, introduced by Congressman Cox. The 
witnesses discussed the need for flexibility in construction 
metrication by using ``soft metric'' versus ``hard metric'' 
measurements, especially where there are cases of adverse 
economic impact and barriers to competition. Witnesses 
testified regarding the need for the bill and their concerns 
with its implementation.
    Presenting testimony at the hearing were: The Honorable 
Christopher Cox (R-CA), Mr. William Fabbri, Vice-President and 
General Manager of Lightolier, Mr. Rod Lee, Senior Vice 
President of Marketing at Lithonia Lighting, Mr. Norbert Rappl, 
President of Comac Building Supply, Mr. Donald Emich, President 
of Binkley & Ober, Mr. Randall Pence, Director of Government 
Relations for the National Concrete and Masonry Association 
(NCMA), Mr. Mark Bohannon, Counsel for Technology at the U.S. 
Department of Commerce, Mr. William Brenner, Director of the 
Construction Metrication Council, Mr. Tom Cunningham, Senior 
Project Manager at R.M. Schoemaker, Mr. David Wright, Vice 
President of United Masonry Inc. of Virginia, and Ms. Lorelle 
Young, President of the U.S. Metric Association.
    Panel 1: The Honorable Christopher Cox (R-CA) testified 
regarding his bill H.R. 2779, ``The Savings in Construction 
Act.'' He said he is a strong supporter of metric conversion, 
and that metric is a vast improvement over the current U.S. 
system. He stated that the question today is not about 
converting to metric, it is about whether the government should 
mandate that commerce must be conducted in round ``hard 
metric'' numbers. He explained that his legislation has been 
narrowly drafted to address only the unnecessarily burdensome 
application of the existing law regarding federal construction 
projects. He testified that his legislation will clarify the 
current law and enable construction projects to be finished 
more efficiently and quickly. He also stated that his 
legislation will assist in reducing the costs to small business 
and taxpayers.
    Panel 2: Mr. William Fabbri, Vice-President and General 
Manager of Lightolier, testified that when he started in the 
fluorescent lighting fixture industry over 2500 companies 
existed. Today due to automation and the capital investment 
required, six manufacturers now make over 80% of the fixtures 
sold. He said because of freight costs there are no imports or 
exports of any of these products outside of North America. He 
stated that his company would have no problem converting to 
``soft metric,'' but ``hard metric'' would require their 
products to be three-eighths of an inch narrower and three-
quarters of an inch shorter. He explained that since all of his 
products are made with automated tooling, ``hard metric'' would 
require a permanent change by retooling, which he estimated 
would cost the company $15 million. He added that because 
government jobs represent only 10% of his market, Lightolier 
could not justify spending the money to retool.
    Mr. Rod Lee, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Lithonia 
Lighting, testified on behalf of National Electrical 
Manufacturers Association (NEMA) regarding the ``hard metric'' 
requirement for bidding on federal projects. He stated that the 
lighting fixture industry cannot produce the ``hard metric'' 
fixtures using their current standardized tooling; therefore, 
additional tooling is required to produce a non-standardized 
product for only one customer--the federal government. He said 
industry-wide adoption of hard metric will not make the 
lighting industry more competitive internationally, since 
exports are practically nonexistent due to shipping costs.
    Mr. Norbert Rappl, President of Comac Building Supply, 
stated that his concrete block company, which employs 25 people 
and has only one machine, studied the costs of converting to 
``hard metrics'' and found it would cost $183,000 to retool the 
plant. Moreover, he said the company would also have to keep 
double inventory, which he explained would cause errors in 
handling because the blocks would be so close in size. He also 
stated that due to the weight of the product they are confined 
to a 50-mile trading radius. He said his company could not 
afford to do the retooling and consequently could not bid on 
federally-assisted projects.
    Mr. Donald Emich, President of Binkley & Ober, stated that 
his concrete block company is in the same situation as Mr. 
Rappl's. He said there are no prospects for exporting their 
products world-wide. He explained that the Canadians have been 
producing hard metric blocks for almost 20 years and still have 
to carry double inventories, and make investments for mold 
parts in both English and metric.
    Mr. Randall Pence, Director of Government Relations for the 
National Concrete and Masonry Association (NCMA), testified 
that NCMA supports the metric system, but is concerned with how 
we convert to the metric system. Currently, he stated, only a 
handful of block producers have the capability to make the 
``hard metric'' blocks. He said that the current law forces a 
niche market for federally-assisted construction projects, and 
eliminates small and medium-sized producers who cannot afford 
to immediately produce the blocks. He explained that this will 
result in a tremendous amount of single-sourcing for government 
projects, which runs completely counter to the current 
initiatives to expand competition in the procurement area of 
the Federal Government. He also said use of ``hard metric'' 
increases costs to the taxpayer by requiring production of a 
specialty product.
    Panel 3: Mr. Mark Bohannon, Counsel for Technology at the 
U.S. Department of Commerce, presented the views of the 
Undersecretary of Commerce, Dr. Mary Good. He stated that the 
Administration's position is to support the procurement of all 
commercially available products and pursue a strong metric 
policy consistent with the international global marketplace. He 
said the Administration is concerned with H.R. 2779 because it 
believes it will prohibit the use of metric products in federal 
construction projects. He said the current law provides 
flexibility to exempt federal agencies from the use of metric 
when it is impractical or causes significant inefficiency, and 
therefore this legislation is not necessary.
    Mr. William Brenner, Director of the Construction 
Metrication Council, testified that almost all federal 
construction projects have come in under budget, and to date 
the government has had little trouble finding companies to 
produce the modular metric products at a reasonable cost. He 
said he would like to help develop an administrative remedy 
which would address the problems of the block and lighting 
fixture industries.
    Mr. Tom Cunningham, Senior Project Manager at R.M. 
Schoemaker, testified regarding the project his company is 
currently working on with the General Services Administration. 
He said the project is the largest metric construction contract 
ever in the U.S., and currently is 95% complete. He said there 
haven't been any extra costs or problems due to the metric 
requirements.
    Mr. David Wright, Vice President of United Masonry Inc. of 
Virginia, said his organization's first metric project is 
currently underway, and it was awarded at 1% below government 
cost estimates. He explained that the layout process using 
metric dimensions is actually simpler because metric uses a 
base measurement of ten units. He added that if they had used 
``soft metric'' in their current project, the cost of cutting 
the ``soft metric'' blocks, so they would fit around the ``hard 
metric'' door frames, would have exceeded any material cost 
premium from switching to metric.
    Ms. Lorelle Young, President of the U.S. Metric 
Association, testified that Congressional interference will 
only impede the conversion to metric. Instead of addressing the 
problem it is attempting to solve, she stated, that H.R. 2779 
is ``overkill'' and attempts to regulate all construction 
products used in federal construction projects. She explained 
that there are exceptions within the current law, they just 
need to be discussed and used.

                          V. Committee Actions

    On May 16, 1996, the Subcommittee on Technology held a 
hearing on H.R. 2779, the Savings in Construction Act of 1996. 
Testimony was received from Representative Christopher Cox (R-
CA), sponsor of the bill, as well as representatives of the 
Administration, affected industries, and metric system 
proponents.
    The Subcommittee convened to mark up H.R. 2779 on June 19, 
1996. An amendment in the nature of a substitute was offered, 
which was adopted by voice vote. The amendment provides 
specific relief for the concrete masonry and lighting 
industries under the Metric Conversion Act of 1975. In 
addition, it provides a mechanism, through the appointment of 
an ombudsman in each executive branch agency, for other 
afflicted industries to gain such relief in the future.
    Subsequently in Subcommittee, an amendment to the amendment 
in the nature of a substitute was offered, and adopted by voice 
vote, that clarified a definition in Section 3 of the bill with 
respect to ``hard'' versus ``soft'' metric. The Subcommittee 
passed H.R. 2779, as amended, by voice vote and ordered the 
bill reported, by voice vote, to the Full Committee for further 
consideration.
    The Full Committee met to mark up H.R. 2779 on June 26, 
1996. The only amendment offered was a manager's amendment by 
Technology Subcommittee Chairwoman Morella to make technical 
corrections. This amendment was adopted by voice vote. H.R. 
2779, the Savings in Construction Act of 1996, was then passed, 
as amended, by voice vote, and ordered reported, a quorum being 
present, to the Full House for consideration.

              VI. Summary of Major Provisions of the Bill

    Provides specific relief for the concrete masonry and 
lighting industries as affected by the Metric Conversion Act of 
1975. The hearing record from the May 16, 1996 Technology 
Subcommittee hearing on H.R. 2779 was clear that these two 
industries had suffered an adverse economic impact which 
required relief.
    Provides a mechanism, through the appointment of an 
ombudsman in each executive branch agency, for other afflicted 
industries to gain relief in the future. The ombudsman would be 
obligated to objectively assess harm to industry, the cost to 
the government, and apply the flexibility of the existing law 
to alleviate hardship.

                    VII. Section-by-Section Analysis

Section 1. Short title

    Cites the Act as the ``Savings in Construction Act of 
1996.''

Section 2. Findings

    In its implementation of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975, 
some agencies are requiring as a condition of obtaining federal 
construction contracts that all bidders implement a hard-metric 
conversion without regard to the costs to American industry to 
retool and without appropriate regard to the limitations of 
practicability or competitive disadvantage.
    A hard metric conversion requires manufacturers to build 
materials in round metric dimensions. In other words, all 
building products used would have to be slightly altered from 
their current dimensions.
    Requiring hard metric products either forces some companies 
to retool or to be effectively unable to bid on federal 
government construction contracts. These federal requirements 
for hard-metric contracts result in an unnecessary added cost 
to industry and the federal government--especially for some 
lighting and concrete masonry products.
    There is a consensus that relief is in order for those two 
industries. There is also a need for the creation of an 
ombudsman process to ensure the appropriate implementation of 
the Metric Conversion Act for other industries that can 
demonstrate economic inefficiencies and impracticality and to 
ensure that there is clear recourse for affected companies if 
the exemptions are not correctly implemented.

Section 3. Definitions

    Hard metric, hard metric conversion, converted product, and 
small business are all defined for the application of the Act.

Section 4. Implementation exceptions

    A federal agency may require, in its implementation of the 
Metric Conversion Act, that specifications for structures or 
systems of concrete masonry be expressed under the metric 
system of measurement, but may not require that concrete 
masonry units be converted products. A federal agency may also 
not require that lighting fixtures be converted products unless 
the predominant voluntary industry consensus standards are hard 
metric.

Section 5. Ombudsman

    The head of each executive agency that awards construction 
contracts shall designate an existing senior agency official to 
serve as a construction metrication ombudsman. This ombudsman 
shall be responsible for reviewing and responding to complaints 
from prospective bidders, subcontractors, suppliers, or their 
designated representatives in matters relating to guidance or 
regulation issued by an agency on the use of the metric system 
of measurement in construction contracts.
    The ombudsman may also review and respond to complaints 
regarding the use of the metric system for products or 
materials required for use in individual construction projects. 
He or she shall be independent of the contracting officer for 
construction contracts.
    The ombudsman shall be responsible for ensuring that the 
agency is not implementing the metric system in a manner that 
is impractical or is likely to cause significant inefficiencies 
or loss of markets to United States firms or is otherwise 
inconsistent with guidance issued by the Secretary of Commerce 
in consultation with the Interagency Council on Metric Policy.
    The ombudsman shall respond to each complaint in writing 
within 30 days and make a recommendation to the head of the 
executive agency for an appropriate resolution.
    In such a recommendation, the ombudsman shall consider: the 
availability of converted products and hard metric production 
capacity of United States firms, or the lack thereof; retooling 
costs and capital investment impacts; the impact on small 
business; the impact on trade; the impact on competition for 
federal contracts; the impact on jobs; the impact on the 
competitiveness of United States firms; and the cost to the 
federal Government.
    After the head of the agency has rendered a decision 
regarding the ombudsman's recommendation, the ombudsman shall 
be responsible for communicating the decision to all 
appropriate policy, design, planning, procurement, and 
notifying personnel in the agency.
    The ombudsman shall conduct appropriate monitoring to 
ensure the decision is implemented, and may submit further 
recommendations, as needed. The head of the agency's decision 
on the ombudsman's recommendations, and any supporting 
documentation, shall also be provided to affected parties and 
made available to the public in a timely manner.

                         VIII. Committee Views

    Advancing the increasing use in the United States of the 
metric system of measurement is a goal established by Congress 
in the Metric Conversion Act of 1975, as amended.
    Congressional intent regarding the mechanics of metric 
conversion, however, was not to require conversion, no matter 
what, and without regard to cost. To the contrary, the metric 
law amendments passed into law in the 1988 Trade Bill are quite 
clear that the nation's metrication conversion policy should 
account for impracticality and situations which are likely to 
cause significant costs or loss of markets to United States 
firms.
    Congress clearly established a number of considerations 
which could, and should, vitiate the requirement to convert to 
the metric system of measurement in federal matters involving 
certain industries or products. While such cases should be 
justified under the law's intent to ensure that the metrication 
effort advances its goal, cases requiring exemptions, 
nevertheless, do exist.
    This Act is made necessary because in some cases federal 
agencies and their employees have failed to consider these 
issues. At times, this has been due to a lack of intra-agency 
and inter-agency communication. At other times, this has been 
due to a lack of knowledge of the exemption language in the 
Metric Conversion Act, a misinterpretation or a confusion as to 
the intent of Congress, or a general disregard for the caveats 
in the metrication law.
    Sometimes problems have also arisen in interpreting whether 
metrication must include a physical change in product size, a 
method known as hard-conversion. Existing metrication law is 
silent on the issue of hard versus soft-metrication.
    The Act clarifies and amplifies Congressional intent as to 
these matters. It reasserts that there are conditions under 
which metrication will not be required, and the Act provides 
much greater specificity with regard to the issues that may 
negate the requirement for metric conversion.
    The Act specifies two types of construction products whose 
manufacturers have conclusively shown suffer great hardship 
when they are required to implement a hard-metric conversion in 
order to compete for federally assisted projects. It also 
provides a vastly improved procedure for addressing future 
issues in a timely fashion.
    The Committee stresses that it is acting to reduce the 
negative impacts of metrication on industries, and it is doing 
so based upon sound public policy considerations.
    All federal agencies should take steps to make sure that 
any exemption from metrication as a consequence of this Act 
will not be used as a justification for reducing or eliminating 
such classes of product use on federally-assisted projects. All 
federal design, contracting, procurement and acquisition 
personnel should be instructed accordingly by agency heads and 
metric ombudsman.
    In the Committee's view it is important that metric policy 
be consistently developed, consistently applied and 
consistently communicated. Different design, contract and 
procurement specialists within agencies should not be in a 
position to de facto implement their own personally held 
metrication strategies where they conflict with federal policy 
set forth in this legislation.
    The implementation exemptions for concrete masonry and 
lighting fixtures eliminate decision-making authority with 
regard to these products because of the clear demonstration of 
hardship that hard-metrication would create for their 
manufacturers. The Committee expects that the Act will not only 
settle this issue for these two classes of product, but it will 
also formalize a higher level of review by senior agency 
ombudsmen in a position to recommend agency-wide solutions for 
future problems.
    Heavy reliance is placed on the ombudsmen to consider the 
criteria set forth in the Act, but it is equally important that 
the ombudsmen develop recommendations that will have agency-
wide application to avoid a piecemeal, contract-by-contract 
consideration per product. Many of the criteria, are by their 
nature, national in scope. Many industries cannot afford to 
raise complaints on each individual contract.
    The ombudsmen should, therefore, seek to settle issues 
agency-wide and nation-wide for their respective agencies. To 
further promote the concept of a nationally consistent 
metrication policy and to avoid time-consuming duplication of 
effort, ombudsmen are encouraged to consider decisions reached 
by other agency ombudsmen in their consideration of similar 
products when industry-satisfying solutions have been obtained.
    Equally important is the function of the ombudsman to 
communicate the recommended solutions to all agency personnel 
who have a role in determining building design and product 
contracting, procurement and acquisition. This will entail 
substantial follow-up with agency staff to ensure that the 
policies are adequately communicated and implemented.
    The Committee expects that the ombudsman should be selected 
only from the existing FTE (full-time equivalent) personnel by 
the head of each executive agency. A current high-ranking 
employee of the agency, and not a new hire, should fulfill the 
duties of the ombudsman. It is not the Committee's intent to 
create additional agency hiring authority for this position.
    In building construction, the ceiling system is installed 
in an early phase of the construction which can be 
significantly earlier than the actual installation of ceiling 
tiles and lighting fixtures. This ceiling system consists of 
metal grids attached to structural elements that must be spaced 
according to the size of the recessed lighting fixtures being 
specified, in inch-pound or the remeasured metric-equivalent 
dimensions. Therefore, the design and installation of the 
ceiling system must be compatible with the recessed lighting 
fixtures. The Committee accepts NEMA Standard LE-4 as a current 
example of a predominant voluntary industry consensus standard.
    Finally, the Committee understands that many federally 
assisted construction projects are currently in various stages 
of progress. This Act would become effective immediately upon 
its enactment. It is the Committee's intent that all federal 
agencies apply the requirements of this Act to all federally-
assisted construction projects now underway for which contracts 
have yet to be awarded regarding products and industries 
affected by this legislation. Changes in design should be made 
if significant schedule delays and significant additional costs 
can be avoided.

                      IX. Committee Cost Estimate

    Pursuant to rule XIII, clause 7 of the Rules of the House 
of Representatives, the committee estimates that enactment of 
H.R. 2779 would result in no cost to the federal government or 
to state or local governments. Enactment of H.R. 2779 would not 
affect direct spending or receipts. Therefore, pay-as-you-go 
procedures would not apply to the bill. The bill contains no 
intergovernmental mandates as defined by P.L. 104-4. The bill 
would not impose new mandates on the private sector.

                 X. Effect of Legislation on Inflation

    In accordance with rule XI, clause 2(l)(4) of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, this legislation is assumed to 
have no inflationary effect on prices and costs in the 
operation of the national economy.

               XI. Oversight Findings and Recommendations

    Clause 2(l)(3)(A) of rule XI requires each committee report 
to contain oversight findings and recommendations required 
pursuant to clause 2(b)(1) of rule X. The Committee has no 
oversight findings.

    XII. Oversight Findings and Recommendations by the Committee on 
                    Government Reform and Oversight

    Clause 2(l)(3)(D) of rule XI requires each committee report 
to contain a summary of the oversight findings and 
recommendations made by the House Government Reform and 
Oversight Committee pursuant to clause 4(c)(2) of rule X, 
whenever such findings have been timely submitted. The 
Committee on Science has received no such findings or 
recommendations from the Committee on Government Reform and 
Oversight.

      XIII. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with clause 3 of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

                     METRIC CONVERSION ACT OF 1975

          * * * * * * *
  Sec. 4. As used in this Act, the term--
          (1) ``Board'' means the United States Metric Board, 
        established under section 5 of this Act;
          (2) ``converted product'' means a material or product 
        that is produced as a result of a hard-metric 
        conversion;
          [(2)] (3) ``engineering standard'' means a standard 
        which prescribes (A) a concise set of conditions and 
        requirements that must be satisfied by a material, 
        product, process, procedure, convention, or test 
        method; and (B) the physical, functional, performance 
        and/or conformance characteristics thereof;
          (4) ``hard-metric'' means measurement, design, and 
        manufacture using the metric system of measurement, but 
        does not include measurement, design, and manufacture 
        using English system measurement units which are 
        subsequently reexpressed in the metric system of 
        measurement;
          (5) ``hard-metric conversion'' means a conversion 
        that requires, in addition to the expression of the 
        linear dimensions of a product under the metric system 
        of measurement, a physical change in the size of that 
        product relative to the size of that product 
        established under the system of English measurements in 
        production practices of the appropriate industry;
          [(3)] (6) ``international standard or 
        recommendation'' means an engineering standard or 
        recommendation which is (A) formulated and promulgated 
        by an international organization and (B) recommended 
        for adoption by individual nations as a national 
        standard; [and]
          [(4)] (7) ``metric system of measurement'' means the 
        International System of Units as established by the 
        General Conference of Weights and Measures in 1960 and 
        as interpreted or modified for the United States by the 
        Secretary of Commerce[.]; and
          (8) ``small business'' has the meaning given the term 
        ``small business concern'' in section 3 of the Small 
        Business Act (15 U.S.C. 632).
          * * * * * * *
  Sec. 12. (a) In carrying out the policy set forth in section 
3 (with particular emphasis on the policy set forth in 
paragraph (2) of that section) a Federal agency may require 
that specifications for structures or systems of concrete 
masonry be expressed under the metric system of measurement, 
but may not require that concrete masonry units be converted 
products.
  (b) In carrying out the policy set forth in section 3 (with 
particular emphasis on the policy set forth in paragraph (2) of 
that section) a Federal agency may not require that lighting 
fixtures be converted products unless the predominant voluntary 
industry consensus standards are hard-metric.
  (c)(1) The head of each executive agency that awards 
construction contracts shall designate a senior agency official 
to serve as a construction metrication ombudsman who shall be 
responsible for reviewing and responding to complaints from 
prospective bidders, subcontractors, suppliers, or their 
designated representatives related to--
          (A) guidance or regulations issued by the agency on 
        the use of the metric system of measurement in 
        construction contracts; and
          (B) the use of the metric system of measurement for 
        products or materials required for incorporation in 
        individual construction projects.
The construction metrication ombudsman shall be independent of 
the contracting officer for construction contracts.
  (2) The ombudsman shall be responsible for ensuring that the 
agency is not implementing the metric system of measurement in 
a manner that is impractical or is likely to cause significant 
inefficiencies or loss of markets to United States firms in 
violation of the policy stated in section 3(2), or is otherwise 
inconsistent with guidance issued by the Secretary of Commerce 
in consultation with the Interagency Council on Metric Policy.
  (3) The ombudsman shall respond to each complaint in writing 
within 30 days and make a recommendation to the head of the 
executive agency for an appropriate resolution thereto. In such 
a recommendation, the ombudsman shall consider--
          (A) the availability of converted products and hard 
        metric production capacity of United States firms, or 
        lack thereof;
          (B) retooling costs and capital investment impacts;
          (C) the impact on small business;
          (D) the impact on trade;
          (E) the impact on competition for Federal contracts;
          (F) the impact on jobs;
          (G) the impact on the competitiveness of United 
        States firms; and
          (H) the cost to the Federal Government.
  (4) After the head of the agency has rendered a decision 
regarding a recommendation of the ombudsman, the ombudsman 
shall be responsible for communicating the decision to all 
appropriate policy, design, planning, procurement, and 
notifying personnel in the agency. The ombudsman shall conduct 
appropriate monitoring as required to ensure the decision is 
implemented, and may submit further recommendations, as needed. 
The head of the agency's decision on the ombudsman's 
recommendations, and any supporting documentation, shall be 
provided to affected parties and made available to the public 
in a timely manner.
          * * * * * * *

                     XIV. Committee Recommendations

    On June 26, 1996, a quorum being present, the Committee 
favorably reported H.R. 2779, the Savings in Construction Act 
of 1996, by voice vote, and recommends its enactment.
                          XV. ADDITIONAL VIEWS

    The Committee's actions have improved H.R. 2779 
substantially. A chain of events, begun by a March 5 letter to 
Under Secretary of Commerce Mary Good from Congressman John 
Tanner and most of the other Committee Democrats, has led to a 
more favorable atmosphere for the concrete block and recessed 
lighting industries and to the legislative language that now 
makes up the substantive portions of H.R. 2779 as reported from 
the Committee on Science.
    While the bill is now no longer harmful to the Federal 
procurement process and while its potential damage to our 
national policy of metric conversion has been minimized, there 
is still some question as to why it is necessary. Dr. Good's 
letter of June 25, 1996, which is attached in the markup 
section of this report, elaborates effectively on this point.
    As Congressman Ehlers has so eloquently pointed out in Full 
Committee markup, our nation's failure to adopt the metric 
system of measurement in a timely manner has cost United States 
companies billions in lost trade opportunities. This situation 
is ongoing and has the potential to get worse. There are only 
two places in this world where the historic inch-pound system 
of measurement is taken seriously: in the United States of 
America and in the world's museums. All of the United States' 
trading partners have converted to the metric system of 
measurement which is undeniably the world standard for 
measurement. They have recognized the simplicity, rationality, 
and elegance of the system and we can increasingly expect them 
to require the use of the SI metric system in American exports 
to their countries. Moreover, exports now are as likely to be 
components as finished products. American companies that are 
unwilling or unable to manufacture these components in metric 
will lose out to foreign companies that will. We need to be 
careful of the message we are sending if we exempt companies 
from metric usage rather than help them to convert to it.
    I believe the case was made in our hearings that 
substantial numbers of block manufacturers are unable to bid on 
construction projects requiring concrete blocks dimensioned in 
rational metric. While I agree that this is a problem, I feel 
we could have come up with a better solution had we been 
willing to try. Our bill represents a ``can't do'' rather than 
a ``can do'' attitude. It is backward looking rather than 
forward looking. If we had been more creative, we would have 
looked for ways to solve the block manufacturers problems while 
advancing the cause of metrication. We could have made sure 
that metric block molds are an allowable expense under Federal 
construction contracts, thereby increasing the number of 
companies who have the wherewithal to bid in rational metric. 
We could have funded research in the design of adjustable molds 
which could be used for both metric and English-dimensioned 
block. As a minimum, we could have sunsetted the metric block 
exemption and thereby setting a time to renew the search for a 
better solution to this problem.
    The lighting industry's case was somewhat less compelling 
but our solution is more appropriate. I expect in the next few 
years that our lighting industry will be manufacturing metric 
lighting products. This section at least, through its standards 
trigger, will allow the exemption to go away when the reason 
for it no longer exists.
    The ombudsman concept is a dramatic improvement over the 
bloated procurement bureaucracy which would have been created 
by section 4 of H.R. 2779 as introduced, but the jury is still 
out on whether it is really necessary. The government has built 
close to a dozen major buildings using metric measurement and 
only two industries have not been willing to go along. One 
would think if metric were a problem for other building 
subcontractors that the problem would have arisen by now. The 
busiest time for the metric ombudsmen will probably be at the 
time of enactment when agencies must figure out what to do with 
buildings already on the drawing boards or under construction. 
I urge ombudsmen in these cases to use common sense. If 
redesign in soft metric can be done easily with little or no 
disruption to the construction project, then it is appropriate. 
If on the other hand respecification in soft metric causes 
either delays or increased costs, don't do it.

                                               George E. Brown, Jr.

               XVI. PROCEEDINGS FROM SUBCOMMITTEE MARKUP


     SUBCOMMITTEE MARKUP ON H.R. 2779--TO PROVIDE FOR SOFT-METRIC 
                   CONVERSION, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

                              ----------                              


                        WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, 1996

                  House of Representatives,
                              Committee on Science,
                                Subcommittee on Technology,
                                                    Washington, DC.
    The Subcommittee met at 10:10 a.m. in Room 2318 of the 
Rayburn House Office Building, the Honorable Constance Morella, 
Chairwoman of the Subcommittee, presiding.
    [The text of the amendment roster follows:]

                          COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE

                     U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                          WASHINGTON, DC 20515

                            AMENDMENT ROSTER

            SUBCOMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY MARKUP: JUNE 19, 1996

                         10:00 a.m.--2:00 p.m.

                Room 2318 Rayburn House Office Building

H.R. 2779, the Savings in Construction Act of 1995
As reported, amended: H.R. 2779, the Savings in Construction 
Act of 1996


------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Number        Sponsor              Description             Results     
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1......  Mrs. Morella         Amendment in the        Passed--Voice Vote
                               nature of a                              
                               substitute                               
2......  Mrs. Morella         Amendment to the        Passed--Voice Vote
                               Amendment in the                         
                              nature of a Substitute                    
3......                                                                 
4......                                                                 
5......                                                                 
------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Mrs. Morella. The subcommittee markup will now commence.
    This morning the Technology Subcommittee will be marking up 
H.R. 2779, the Savings In Construction Act. It was introduced 
by our colleague, Congressman Christopher Cox of California, 
and currently cosponsored by 80 of our colleagues including a 
number of members of this Subcommittee.
    H.R. 2779 provides for the appropriate implementation of 
the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 in federal construction 
projects.
    On May 16th, the Technology Subcommittee held a hearing on 
proposed amendments to the Metric Conversion Act with a focus 
on H.R. 2779.
    We heard from the sponsor of the bill, the Administration, 
affected industries, and metric system proponents on the need 
for the bill and their concerns with its implementation.
    And as we proceed with debate on the measure, I'll be 
offering an amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 
2779.
    This amendment reflects an agreement conducted through 
months of negotiations and discussions, many which predate our 
May hearing with Congressman Cox, the Majority Committee Staff, 
the Minority Committee Staff, and affected industries.
    I do want to thank all parties involved for being able to 
come up with this compromise. Indeed, it has not been easy, but 
I think we have forged that agreement.
    Specifically, the amendment in the nature of a substitute 
offered on behalf of Mr. Cox would, first of all, provide 
specific recourse for the concrete, masonry and lighting 
industries in the interpretation of the Metric Conversion Act 
of 1975.
    The hearing record from our May hearing is clear that these 
two industries had suffered a demonstrated adverse economic 
impact which necessitates immediate relief.
    Secondly, the amendment would provide a mechanism, through 
the appointment of an ombudsman in each Executive Branch agency 
for other afflicted industries to gain such relief in the 
future, if needed.
    The ombudsman would be obligated to balance harm to the 
industry and objectively apply the flexibility of the existing 
law to alleviate hardship.
    As the Chair of the Subcommittee which has jurisdiction 
over our nation's technology and competitiveness policy, I am a 
strong supporter of promoting the use of metric.
    The United States remains the only major industrialized 
country which does not predominantly use metric as a standard 
measurement system.
    And I believe that rolling back our current metric efforts 
is unwise and would only serve to ultimately impair our 
nation's long term international competitiveness.
    H.R. 2779, however, does not do that. There is a need for 
flexibility in the implementation of our current metric law, 
and this bill would provide for that.
    H.R. 2779, as amended by this substitute, simply provides 
for less costly and less intrusive ways of meeting the goals of 
the Metric Conversion Act in federal construction projects.
    I would urge all of my colleagues to support both my 
amendment in the nature of a substitute, and favorably report 
out H.R. 2779 to the full Science Committee.
    [The text of H.R. 2779 follows:]

                  [H.R. 2779, 104th Cong., 1st Sess.]

 A BILL To provide for soft-metric conversion, and for other purposes.
    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Savings in Construction Act of 
1995''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    The Congress finds the following:
          (1) The Metric Conversion Act of 1975 was enacted in order to 
        set forth the policy of the United States to convert to the 
        metric system. Section 3 of that Act requires that each Federal 
        agency use the metric system of measurement in its 
        procurements, grants and other business related activities, 
        unless that use is likely to cause significant cost or loss of 
        markets to United States firms, such as when foreign 
        competitors are producing competing products in non-metric 
        units.
          (2) Currently, many Federal construction contracting officers 
        are requiring as a condition of obtaining Federal contracts 
        that all bidders must agree to use products measured in round 
        metric units, materials which are known as ``hard-metric'' 
        products. This requires retooling, substantial capitalization 
        costs, and other expensive production changes for most 
        construction firms and suppliers to physically change the size 
        of the product.
          (3) This ``hard-metric'' conversion requirement is often 
        being imposed only for the purpose of achieving rounded 
        numbers, and without regard to whether that method is 
        impractical or likely to cause significant costs or a loss of 
        markets to United States firms.
          (4) United States businesses that manufacture basic 
        construction products suffer great upheaval by being forced to 
        either convert to hard-metric production, or be foreclosed from 
        effectively bidding on Federal or federally assisted projects.
          (5) This ``hard-metric'' conversion requirement places 
        domestic producers at a competitive disadvantage with respect 
        to foreign producers; reduces the number of companies that may 
        compete for contracts with the Federal Government; and forces 
        manufacturers to maintain double inventories of similar but 
        incompatible products.
          (6) This ``hard-metric'' conversion requirement raises the 
        cost to taxpayers of Federal construction projects, since the 
        Federal Government is often required to pay additional costs, 
        known as a ``metric premium,'' to procure hard-metric products.
          (7) ``Soft-metric'' conversion would be a less costly and 
        less intrusive way of meeting the goals of Section 3 of the 
        Metric Conversion Act of 1975. The product itself would remain 
        the same size; its dimensions simply would be expressed in 
        metric units.
          (8) As the application of the soft-metric conversion mandates 
        no change in the size of the product, the goals of the Metric 
        Conversion Act of 1975 will be achieved without excessive 
        economic upheaval.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    Section 4 of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 (15 U.S.C. 205c) is 
amended--
          (1) by redesignating paragraphs (2), (3), and (4) as 
        paragraphs (3), (6), and (8), respectively;
          (2) by inserting after paragraph (1) the following new 
        paragraph:
          ``(2) `domestic manufacturer' means a manufacturer at least 
        51 percent of whose production occurs in the United States;'';
          (3) by inserting after paragraph (3), as so redesignated by 
        paragraph (1) of this section, the following new paragraphs:
          ``(4) `hard-metric product' means a material or product that 
        is--
                  ``(A) produced as a result of a hard-metric 
                conversion; or
                  ``(B) identical to a material or product described in 
                subparagraph (A), although originally produced in 
                metric-based dimensions;
          ``(5) `hard-metric conversion' means a conversion that 
        requires, in addition to the expression of the dimensions of a 
        product under the metric system of measurement, a physical 
        change in the size of that product relative to the size of that 
        product established under existing production practices of the 
        appropriate industry;'';
          (4) by striking ``and'' at the end of paragraph (6), as so 
        redesignated by paragraph (1) of this section;
          (5) by inserting after paragraph (6), as so redesignated by 
        paragraph (1) of this section, the following new paragraph:
          ``(7) `industry' has the meaning provided that term by the 
        Board by regulation;'';
          (6) by striking the period at the end of paragraph (8), as so 
        redesignated by paragraph (1) of this section, and inserting in 
        lieu thereof a semicolon; and
          (7) by adding at the end the following new paragraphs:
          ``(9) `soft-metric product' means a material or product that 
        is produced as a result of a soft-metric conversion;
          ``(10) `soft-metric conversion' means a conversion that 
        requires the expression of the dimensions of a product under 
        the metric system of measurement without changing the physical 
        size of the product relative to the size of that product 
        established under existing production practices of the 
        appropriate industry; and
          ``(11) `small business' means a business that would be a 
        small business under the Standard Industrial Classification 
        codes and size standards in section 121.601 of title 13 of the 
        Code of Federal Regulations as in effect on the date of the 
        enactment of this paragraph.''.

SEC. 4. METRIC CONVERSION.

    Section 12 of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 (15 U.S.C. 205j-1) 
is amended by striking subsection (b) and inserting in lieu thereof the 
following new subsections:
    ``(b) No agency of the Federal Government may develop, implement, 
or continue the use of construction design or procurement guidelines 
that require the use of a hard-metric product if a majority of the 
contracts that would be proposed pursuant to such guidelines would be 
likely to result in a certification described in subsection (c)(3)(A).
    ``(c) No agency of the Federal Government may establish or apply a 
bidding requirement or preference with respect to any federally 
assisted construction contract that specifies the use of a hard-metric 
product if--
          ``(1) the use of soft-metric product is technologically 
        feasible; and
          ``(2) an appropriate representative (as selected pursuant to 
        subsection (d) of the industry that manufactures the product) 
        notifies the agency, within 30 days after enactment of this 
        Act, that the representative makes certification or intends to 
        make certification under paragraph (3)(A); and either--
          ``(3) the certification establishes or will establish that--
                  ``(A) such industry-specific or product-specific 
                factors exist that--
                          ``(i)(I) the product is not readily available 
                        as a hard-metric product from 50 percent or 
                        more of the domestic manufacturers in the 
                        United States; or
                          ``(II) a hard-matric product does not 
                        constitute 50 percent or more of the total 
                        production of that product by that industry;
                          ``(ii) a hard-metric conversion would require 
                        domestic manufacturers that are small 
                        businesses that produce the product to incur 
                        capital outlays in an average amount greater 
                        than $25,000 per manufacturer to invest in new 
                        equipment to produce a hard-metric product; and
                          ``(iii)(I) based on the economic situation 
                        and customs of the industry, any potential 
                        offsetting benefits that could be achieved by 
                        that industry by carrying out a hard metric 
                        conversion to produce that product would be 
                        negligible or
                          ``(II) hard metric conversion would 
                        substantially reduce competition for Federal 
                        contracts and increase by 1 percent or more the 
                        per unit cost of that product; or
                          ``(III) hard metric conversion would create a 
                        special hardship with respect to domestic 
                        manufacturers that are small businesses by 
                        placing those manufacturers at a competitive 
                        disadvantage with respect to foreign 
                        competitors; or
          ``(4) less that 180 days have elapsed after the appropriate 
        representative has been notified of a proposed contract 
        specifying hard-metric product.
    ``(d) The head of each agency of the Federal Government shall 
establish a list of appropriate representatives of each industry that 
may make a certification under subsection (c)(3)(A). The agency head 
shall update that list on an annual basis. The list shall include 
appropriate professional or trade associations that are recognized as 
representing the industries.
    ``(e) When an appropriate representative submits a certification 
under subsection (c)(3)(A), the representative shall also submit a list 
of domestic manufacturers that have the capability to manufacture the 
product that is the subject of the certification as a soft-metric 
product.''.

    Mrs. Morella. Now I'd like to turn to the Ranking Member of 
the Subcommittee, Mr. Tanner, for any comments he may have.
    Mr. Tanner. Thank you, Madame Chairwoman.
    I will be very brief.
    I understand and sympathize with the problems that the 
block and lighting fixture industries are facing due to the 
federal policy in this area.
    I had hoped, and think the better way to go is to resolve 
this administratively. Unfortunately, the Administration has 
not been as forthcoming as I think they should have been in 
this area, and so I am prepared to support the substitute 
amendment provided that the Chair is willing to further refine 
the amendment if it looks like that might be necessary if it 
comes before the Full Committee.
    And certainly in this Subcommittee, there's precedent for 
further amendments on the floor.
    I would hope that the minority would be consulted if there 
are further amendments to be offered, either in Full Committee 
or on the floor in this instance.
    Thank you.
    Mrs. Morella. We will so accommodate.
    Are there any other opening statements?
    Mr. Calvert?
    [No response.]
    Mrs. Morella. Ms. Seastrand?
    [No response.]
    Mrs. Morella. Mrs. Myrick?
    [No response.]
    [The opening statement of Hon. Eddie Bernice Johnson 
follows:]

        Opening Statement of the Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson

    I thank the Chairwoman for recognizing me.
    I am somewhat puzzled by the legislation which is before us 
today. H.R. 2779, the Savings in Construction Act, will 
essentially exempt the concrete block and recessed lighting 
fixture industries from the requirements of hard metric 
measurements. While I do understand the need of the industry, 
and have no objections to this taking place, I am confused by 
the form the legislation will take.
    The bill will create an ombudsman to make recommendations 
concerning metric conversion for other industries. If a problem 
does exist which would require such an ombudsman, I find it a 
little strange that industry has not come forward, as the block 
and lighting industries have done, to indicate a problem. The 
bill by its terms exempts the block and lighting industries 
from the requirements, and I thus find myself wondering what 
the ombudsman, in his or her new office, will be making 
recommendations about. Obviously, it won't be about concrete 
block and recessed lighting fixtures.
    Additionally, current law allows exemptions for industries 
which are significantly hampered by metric requirements. It 
therefore occurs to me that this entire problem might be better 
addressed by an administrative solution, instead of 
legislation. I thank the Chair and yield back the balance of my 
time.

    Mrs. Morella. I ask unanimous consent that H.R. 2779, 
introduced by Congressman Christopher Cox, entitled ``The 
Savings in Construction Act of 1996'' be considered as read, 
and open to amendment at any point.
    I have an amendment, the Chair has an amendment at the 
desk, in the nature of a substitute, and it is the only 
amendment on the roster.
    [The text of the amendment follows:]
 Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 2779 Offered by Mrs. 
                          Morella of Maryland
    Strike all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu thereof the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Savings in Construction Act of 
1996''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    The Congress finds the following:
          (1) The Metric Conversion Act of 1975 was enacted in order to 
        set forth the policy of the United States to convert to the 
        metric system. Section 3 of that Act requires that each Federal 
        agency use the metric system of measurement in its 
        procurements, grants and other business related activities, 
        unless that use is likely to cause significant cost or loss of 
        markets to United States firms, such as when foreign 
        competitors are producing competing products in non-metric 
        units.
          (2) Currently, many Federal construction contracting officers 
        are requiring as a condition of obtaining Federal contracts 
        that all bidders must agree to use products measured in round 
        metric units, materials which are known as ``hard-metric'' 
        products. This can require retooling, substantial 
        capitalization costs, and other expensive production changes 
        for some suppliers to physically change the size of the 
        product.
          (3) This ``hard-metric'' conversion requirement has sometimes 
        been imposed without appropriate regard to whether that method 
        is impractical or likely to cause significant costs or a loss 
        of markets to United States firms.
          (4) Some United States businesses that manufacture basic 
        construction products suffer harm by being forced to convert to 
        hard-metric production, or by being foreclosed from effectively 
        bidding on Federal or federally assisted projects.
          (5) This ``hard-metric'' conversion requirement may place 
        domestic producers at a competitive disadvantage with respect 
        to foreign producers; may reduce the number of companies that 
        may compete for contracts with the Federal Government; and may 
        force manufacturers to maintain double inventories of similar 
        but incompatible products.
          (6) This ``hard-metric'' conversion requirement has 
        unnecessarily raised the cost to the Government of some 
        lighting and concrete masonry products and there is consensus 
        that relief is in order.
          (7) While the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 currently 
        provides an exception to metric usage when impractical or when 
        it will cause economic inefficiencies, there is need for 
        ombudsmen and procedures to ensure the effective implementation 
        of the exceptions.
          (8) The changes made by this Act will advance the goals of 
        the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 while eliminating significant 
        problems in its implementation.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    Section 4 of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 (15 U.S.C. 205c) is 
amended--
          (1) by redesignating paragraphs (2), (3), and (4) as 
        paragraphs (3), (6), and (7), respectively;
          (2) by inserting after paragraph (1) the following new 
        paragraph:
          ``(2) `converted product' means a material or product that is 
        produced as a result of a hard-metric conversion;'';
          (3) by inserting after paragraph (3) the following new 
        paragraphs:
          ``(4) `hard-metric' means measurement and design using the 
        metric system of measurement, but does not include design in 
        English system measurement units and remeasurement in the 
        metric system of measurement;
          ``(5) `hard-metric conversion' means a conversion that 
        requires, in addition to the expression of the linear 
        dimensions of a product under the metric system of measurement, 
        a physical change in the size of that product relative to the 
        size of that product established under the system of English 
        measurements in production practices of the appropriate 
        industry;'';
          (4) by striking ``and'' at the end of paragraph (6), as so 
        redesignated by paragraph (1) of this section;
          (5) by striking the period at the end of paragraph (7), as so 
        redesignated by paragraph (1) of this section, and inserting in 
        lieu thereof ``; and''; and
          (6) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
          ``(8) `small business' means a business that would be a small 
        business under the Standard Industrial Classification codes and 
        size standards in section 121.601 of title 13 of the Code of 
        Federal Regulations as in effect on the date of the enactment 
        of this paragraph.''.

SEC. 4. IMPLEMENTATION EXCEPTIONS.

    Section 12 of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 (15 U.S.C. 205j-1) 
is amended by striking subsection (b) and inserting in lieu thereof the 
following new subsections:
    ``(b) In carrying out the policy set forth in section 3, as 
required by subsection (a) of this section, a Federal agency may 
require that specifications for structures or systems of concrete 
masonry be expressed under the metric system of measurement, but may 
not require that concrete masonry units be converted products.
    ``(c) In carrying out the policy set forth in section 3, as 
required by subsection (a) of this section, a Federal agency may not 
require that lighting fixtures be converted products unless the 
predominant voluntary industry consensus standards are hard-metric.''.

SEC. 5. OMBUDSMAN.

    Section 12 of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 (15 U.S.C. 205j-1), 
as amended by section 4 of this Act, is further amended by adding at 
the end the following new subsection:
    ``(d)(1) The head of each executive agency that awards construction 
contracts shall designate a senior agency official to serve as a 
construction metrication ombudsman who shall be responsible for 
reviewing and responding to complaints from prospective bidders, 
subcontractors, suppliers, or their designated representatives related 
to--
          ``(A) guidance or regulations issued by the agency on the use 
        of the metric system of measurement in construction contracts; 
        and
          ``(B) the use of the metric system of measurement for 
        products or materials required for incorporation in individual 
        construction projects.
The construction metrication ombudsman shall be independent of the 
contracting officer for construction contracts.
    ``(2) The ombudsman shall be responsible for ensuring that the 
agency is not implementing the metric system of measurement in a manner 
that is impractical or is likely to cause significant inefficiencies or 
loss of markets to United States firms in violation of the policy 
stated in section 3(2), or is otherwise inconsistent with guidance 
issued by the Secretary of Commerce in consultation with the 
Interagency Council on Metric Policy.
    ``(3) The ombudsman shall respond to each complaint in writing 
within 30 days and make a recommendation to the head of the executive 
agency for an appropriate resolution thereto. In such a recommendation, 
the ombudsman shall consider--
          ``(A) the availability of converted products and hard metric 
        production capacity of United States firms, or lack thereof;
          ``(B) retooling costs and capital investment impacts;
          ``(C) the impact on small business;
          ``(D) the impact on trade;
          ``(E) the impact on competition for Federal contracts;
          ``(F) the impact on jobs;
          ``(G) the impact on the competitiveness of United States 
        firms; and
          ``(H) the cost to the Federal Government.
    ``(4) After the head of the agency has rendered a decision 
regarding a recommendation of the ombudsman, the ombudsman shall be 
responsible for communicating the decision to all appropriate policy, 
design, planning, procurement, and notifying personnel in the agency. 
The ombudsman shall conduct appropriate monitoring as required to 
ensure the decision is implemented, and may submit further 
recommendations, as needed. The head of the agency's decision on the 
ombudsman's recommendations, and any supporting documentation, shall be 
provided to affected parties and made available to the public in a 
timely manner.''.
    Amend the title so as to read as follows: ``A bill to provide for 
appropriate implementation of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 in 
Federal construction projects, and for other purposes.''.

    Mrs. Morella. The Clerk will read the amendment.
    The Clerk. Amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 
2779 offered by Mrs. Morella of Maryland.
    Strike all after the enacting clause, and insert in lieu 
thereof the following:
    Section 1. Short Title.
    This Act may be cited as the ``Savings In Construction Act 
of 1996.''
    Sec. 2. Findings.
    The Congress finds the following:
    Mr. Tanner. I would ask that the amendment be considered as 
read, Madame Chairwoman.
    Mrs. Morella. I have already explained the various parts of 
the amendment in the nature of a substitute.
    And I wonder if we have any further discussion on it by any 
members of the Subcommittee?
    [No response.]
    Mrs. Morella. If not, the vote occurs on the amendment in 
the nature of a substitute.
    All those in favor will say aye.
    [Chorus of ayes.]
    Mrs. Morella. Those opposed, no.
    [No response.]
    Mrs. Morella. The ayes have it, the amendment is agreed to.
    [The text of the amendment follows:]
 Amendment Offered by Mrs. Morella to the Amendment in the Nature of a 
                               Substitute
    Page 4, lines 1-5, amend paragraph (4) to read as follows:
    ``(4) `hard-metric' means measurement, design, and manufacture 
using the metric system of measurement, but does not include 
measurement, design, and manufacture using English system measurement 
units which are subsequently reexpressed in the metric system of 
measurement;

    Mrs. Morella. I have another amendment before me. This is 
an amendment to the amendment in the nature of a substitute.
    The Clerk will report the amendment.
    The Clerk. Amendment offered by Mrs. Morella to the 
amendment in the nature of a substitute.
    Page 4, lines 1-5, amend paragraph [4] to read as follows:
    ``[4] `hard-metric' means measurement, design, and 
manufacture using the metric system of measurement, but does 
not include measurement, design, and manufacture using English 
system measurement units which are subsequently reexpressed in 
the metric system of measurement.''
    Mrs. Morella. In the way of a simple explanation, what this 
amendment to the amendment in the nature of a substitute is to 
define, give a redefinition of hard metric, as agreed to by all 
of the parties.
    Is there any further discussion on the amendment to the 
amendment in the nature of a substitute?
    [No response.]
    Mrs. Morella. If not, the vote occurs on the amendment.
    All those in favor say aye.
    [Chorus of ayes.]
    Mrs. Morella. Those opposed, no.
    [No response.]
    Mrs. Morella. The amendment is agreed to.
    [Pause.]
    Mrs. Morella. This is the pause that refreshes until we 
have two more people come to give us the appropriate number for 
a quorum, so at ease.
    [Pause.]
    Mrs. Morella. The subcommittee markup will reconvene.
    The question is on the Bill H.R. 2779, the Savings in 
Construction Act of 1995, as amended.
    And all those in favor will say aye.
    [Chorus of ayes.]
    Mrs. Morella. Those opposed will say no.
    [No response.]
    Mrs. Morella. In the opinion of the Chair, the ayes have 
it.
    I'd now recognize the Ranking Minority Member.
    Mr. Tanner. Madam Chairwoman, I move that the subcommittee 
report the bill H.R. 2779, as amended.
    I furthermore move to instruct the staff to make technical 
and conforming amendments, and let the Chairwoman take all 
other necessary steps to bring the bill before the Full 
Committee for consideration.
    Mrs. Morella. The subcommittee has heard the motion, and 
those in favor will say aye.
    [Chorus of ayes.]
    Mrs. Morella. Those opposed will say no.
    [No response.]
    Mrs. Morella. The motion is agreed to, and without 
objection, the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table.
    And this concludes our Subcommittee markup on H.R. 2779.
    Thank you all very much.
    [Whereupon, at 10:28 a.m., Wednesday, June 19, 1996, the 
Subcommittee was adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.]
              XVII. PROCEEDINGS FROM FULL COMMITTEE MARKUP


FULL COMMITTEE MARKUP ON H.R. 2779--THE SAVINGS IN CONSTRUCTION ACT OF 
                                  1996

                              ----------                              


                        WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 1996

                          House of Representatives,
                                      Committee on Science,
                                                    Washington, DC.
    The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 1:24 p.m. in Room 
2318, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Robert S. Walker, 
Chairman of the Committee presiding.
    The Chairman. Good afternoon.
    Pursuant to notice, the Committee on Science is meeting 
today to consider the following matter: H.R. 2779, the Savings 
in Construction Act of 1996.
    I ask unanimous consent for the authority to recess. If 
there is no objection, so ordered.
    This afternoon the Science Committee will be marking up 
H.R. 2779, the Savings in Construction Act, introduced by 
Congressman Christopher Cox of California.
    This bill is currently cosponsored by a bipartisan group of 
80 Members, including a number of members of this committee. 
H.R. 2779 also had been approved by the Speaker's Advisory 
Group on Corrections, a group of six Democrats and six 
Republicans, which aids the Speaker in determining which bills 
are acceptable for the Corrections Day Calendar.
    A number of Federal agencies, in compliance with the Metric 
Conversion Act of 1975 and its 1988 amendments, are requiring 
the use of the metric system in Federal construction projects. 
However, there are two ways for the conversion process to 
proceed, hard or soft metric conversion.
    A ``soft'' metric conversion simply requires the use of 
metric units in the design of the building and measurements of 
its components. A ``hard'' metric conversion requires that 
every brick, every concrete block, every lighting fixture, 
every door and window, every piece of plywood, wallboard, rigid 
insulation, floor tile, et cetera, everything be manufactured 
in round metric units.
    Hard metric conversion is not required anywhere in the law 
but has been required in the bureaucrat's regulations. The 
effect can be to force companies, including small businesses, 
into a Hobson's choice: Retooling their production facilities 
at great cost to produce products which are identical except 
for a slight changes in size.
    With H.R. 2779, we can achieve the goals of the 1975 Metric 
Act without closing Federal project bids to U.S. businesses, 
especially small manufacturers who cannot afford to retool or 
who depend upon those contracts for their livelihood.
    On May 16, the Technology Subcommittee held a hearing on 
H.R. 2779. At that hearing we heard from a number of these 
affected companies. These companies that manufacture basic 
construction products have suffered by being forced to either 
convert to hard metric production or be foreclosed from 
effectively bidding on Federal projects.
    This hard metric conversion requirement places domestic 
producers at a competitive disadvantage with respect to foreign 
producers, reduces the number of companies that may compete for 
contracts with the Federal Government, and forces manufacturers 
to maintain double inventories of similar but incompatible 
products.
    With H.R. 2779, we can also use the metric system on 
Federal construction projects without adding 15 to 20 percent 
to the cost of each project. We can open up our Federal 
construction projects to all bidders and avoid raising the cost 
of these projects to taxpayers, since the Federal Government is 
often required to pay additional costs, known as a metric 
premium, to procure unique hard metric products.
    I would like to commend the Chairwoman of the Technology 
Subcommittee, Mrs. Morella, for her efforts in reporting this 
bill to the full committee.
    At the subcommittee markup, Mrs. Morella offered an 
amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 2779 which 
would do some changes in this. This is the type of corrective 
legislation which we can all support from both sides of the 
aisle.
    I thank the members of the Minority who have cooperated on 
this so that we can move forward with it.
    I would like to recognize at this point Mr. Tanner, who is 
the ranking member of the subcommittee, for any comments he 
might have with regard to the legislation.
    Mr. Tanner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    We marked this up in our subcommittee on a unanimous vote, 
and I understand there is an amendment which we have no 
objection to.
    I would ask at this point for unanimous consent to insert a 
statement from Mr. Brown into the record. He has an amendment 
pending on the Floor and is unable join us at the moment.
    The Chairman. Without objection.
    [The prepared statement of Mr. Brown follows:]
  Opening Remarks of Hon. George E. Brown, Jr., H.R. 2779, Savings in 
                    Construction Act, June 26, 1996

    Mr. Chairman: As markets have become more global, successful 
nations have paid more and more attention to international standards 
and I am pleased to remind my colleagues that for the past decade, this 
Committee has been the most important Congressional advocate of this 
trend. We realized early on that U.S. businesses faced barriers of law, 
regulation, custom, or knowledge to our designing and manufacturing 
world-class products that they would lose business opportunities. Other 
countries will refuse entry of non-conforming products to their 
countries and if U.S. suppliers cannot deliver the product that their 
customers need, businesses and consumers overseas will look to those 
who can deliver.
    While we have made great strides in the area of international 
standards, we have one great failure and that is metric policy. By not 
moving decisively to implement the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 until 
passage of 1988 amendments to that Act, we have allowed ourselves to be 
the odd man out internationally. There are basically two places left in 
this world to see products made in non-metric measurements: museums and 
the United States of America. We were the last industrialized nation in 
the world to commit to metric conversion; we are the only one that is 
still dragging its feet.
    In 1987, when the U.S. and Japan sat down to discuss barriers to 
trade, the number one problem they cited was our failure to convert to 
metric; the 1988 amendments that are being amended once again today, 
were in part, a response to that criticism. They established in no 
uncertain terms that the metric system of measure is to be considered 
the preferred system of measurement of U.S. commerce and that Federal 
procurement is to be done in metric. They also provided an important 
exception, which has worked well until recently: Federal procurement in 
metric is not required ``to the extent that such use is impractical or 
is likely to cause significant inefficiencies or loss of markets to 
United States firms.''
    Today, we are considering the impact of metric procurement on 
Federal construction. Two industries, concrete masonry and recessed 
lighting, feel they have not been getting appropriate treatment under 
the 1988 exemption and through H.R. 2779, are, in effect, appealing 
their case to the Congress. H.R. 2779 as introduced drew strong 
opposition from the Office of Management and Budget which felt the 
proposal would weaken the U.S. effort in metric conversion and add 
major bureaucratic requirements to Federal procurement. 
    The Technology Subcommittee's version of the bill before us has an 
unsung hero, Congressman John Tanner, the Ranking Democratic Member on 
the Technology Subcommittee. John realized that the obvious solution to 
the problems of the lighting and block industry was for the Executive 
Branch to use its existing authority to grant exemptions. He got most 
of the Democratic members of our Committee to sign a letter asking the 
Commerce Department to intervene in the matter. The Administration 
responded by meeting with representatives of the affected industries, 
by promulgating a Federal Register Notice setting out guidelines for 
the usage of metric regarding concrete masonry block and recessed 
lighting, and by engaging in extensive discussions with Congressional 
staff. The efforts John set in motion have led to the compromise 
language we have before us today which provides specific relief for the 
two industries and an ombudsman process for working out problems of 
implementation.
    The compromise language will allow buildings to be designed in 
metric but will treat masonry as covering a specific metric surface 
area. A company supplying masonry products to a Federal construction 
project can supply either metric or non-metric products with the final 
rows of non-metric products being trimmed to fit the overall metric 
dimensions. Of course, metric products, if they are available, will be 
acceptable, but cost will be the determining factor in whether metric 
or non-metric product is used.
    The compromise also creates agency ombudsmen to work out problems 
related to metric usage in Federal construction. The ombudsmen should 
prove especially valuable for projects under design on the date of 
enactment. We expect them to look at the facts of each case to 
determine whether redesign to comply with this Act makes economic sense 
or whether the projects have progressed to the point where redesign in 
soft metric would increase project costs.
    A compromise, by definition, is not a perfect solution from 
anyone's point of view. The Commerce Department, while not objecting to 
House passage of the Technology Subcommittee's version of H.R. 2779, 
feels that the bill is unnecessary and can be solved administratively 
using existing law. This, of course, was what I hoped would be possible 
when I signed Mr. Tanner's letter to the Department of Commerce. I 
still hope we reach the point where the Executive Branch has obviated 
the need for this legislation. I ask unanimous consent that this letter 
appear at this point in the record of this mark-up.
    In closing Mr. Chairman, I wish to complement Mr. Tanner, Chairman 
Morella, and the other members of the Technology Subcommittee for their 
hard work in improving this legislation.

    Mr. Tanner. I guess either now or before or after the 
amendment is offered, I would ask unanimous consent to insert a 
letter from Dr. Mary Good into the record with regard to the 
matter.
    The Chairman. Without objection.
    Mr. Tanner. Thank you.
    [The letter referred to follows:]

                       U.S. Department of Commerce,
                        The Under Secretary for Technology,
                                     Washington, DC, June 25, 1996.
Hon. George E. Brown, Jr.,
Ranking Member of the Committee on Science, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear George: Thank you for your letter of June 17, 1996. On June 
19, 1996, the Technology Subcommittee voted unanimously on a Substitute 
Amendment to H.R. 2779, as originally introduced. We have been able to 
review the changes in light of the concerns that the Administration has 
previously raised. We will continue to monitor any additional changes 
to the bill as it is considered by the Committee on Science and 
subsequently by the full House and then the Senate.
    With the changes embodied in the Substitute Amendment, the 
Administration will not object to House passage. Nonetheless, the 
Administration continues to believe that the legislation improperly 
supplants an administrative solution as envisioned under the Metric 
Conversion Act of 1975. As I indicated in my testimony before the 
Subcommittee in May, the steps we have taken, working with the 
Committee and the private sector, to issue policy guidance are the most 
appropriate way to address the concerns of the recessed lighting and 
concrete block industries.
    Federal law and Administration policy both encourage use of the 
metric system to promote U.S. competitive advantage in international 
markets. The reality, as reflected in the hearings held in May, is that 
American industry--including the vast majority of the construction 
industry--is already moving toward using metric in its design, 
engineering and product standards. It is certainly not the 
Administration's intent to unduly burden American firms in this area, 
but instead to pursue metrication for increased cost-effectiveness for 
American business, efficiency in procurement, and greater access to 
international markets.
    As we previously indicated, H.R. 2779, as originally introduced, is 
unnecessary. The Substitute Amendment is also unnecessary, because 
current Federal law and Administration policy provide the flexibility 
in the use of metric standards by exempting the use of metric 
measurements where such use is impractical or is likely to cause 
significant inefficiencies or loss of markets for U.S. firms.
    The Administration is acutely aware that this endeavor requires a 
close partnership between industry and government. Both the public and 
private sectors are working to resolve building metrication issues. As 
a result of this work, we issued Guidance to Federal Agencies in May 
that provides the concrete block and recessed lighting industries with 
a specific exemption from ``hard metric'' requirements. We will 
continue to work with these industries to ensure that the policy 
guidance that has been issued is effectively implemented by all 
agencies.
    Again, George, thank you for your leadership on this issue, and 
support for the Administration's technology agenda.
            Sincerely,
                                                      Mary L. Good.

    The Chairman. Mrs. Morella.
    Mrs. Morella. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    As the Chair of the Technology Subcommittee with 
jurisdiction over our Nation's technology and competitiveness 
policy, I am a strong supporter of encouraging the use of the 
metric system in the interests of our Nation's industrial 
competitiveness in world markets.
    Despite current law to promote the metric system, as we all 
know, the United States still remains the only major 
industrialized country in the world which does not 
predominantly use metric as a standard measurement system.
    Converting to the metric system is a goal that Congress has 
already wisely decided with the passage of the Metric 
Conversion Act of 1975, and it is an objective that I believe 
most Members of Congress fully support. It may take time, but 
American public acceptance of the metric system will eventually 
come, albeit gradually, and lead ultimately to metric 
conversion in the United States.
    Any attempts to roll back our current metric efforts would 
be unwise and would only serve to impair our Nation's long-term 
international competitive interest.
    So, with that being said, while I would oppose any efforts 
to eliminate the Metric Conversion Act, I do support H.R. 2779, 
as reported out of the Technology Subcommittee, because it 
maintains the integrity of our current metric law while 
providing flexibility in its interpretation.
    H.R. 2779 simply provides for less costly and less 
intrusive ways of meeting the goals of the Metric Conversion 
Act in Federal construction projects.
    The bill before us contains an amendment in the nature of a 
substitute which, as was mentioned, I offered during our 
Technology Subcommittee markup last week on behalf of 
Congressman Cox of California, who is the sponsor of H.R. 2779. 
That amendment reflected an agreement conducted through months 
of negotiations and discussions with Congressman Cox, the 
Majority committee staff, the Minority committee staff, the 
administration, and affected industries.
    As amended, H.R. 2779 is a bill which balances the need for 
the Federal Government to maintain its current efforts to 
promote metric while providing for appropriate implementation 
of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 in Federal construction 
projects. I believe it is worthy of the support of this full 
committee. I would urge all my colleagues to favorably report 
this bill to the House for its consideration.
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    The Chairman. I thank the gentlelady.
    We will now consider H.R. 2779, the Savings in Construction 
Act of 1996. I ask unanimous consent that the bill be 
considered as read and open to amendment at any point.
    The Chairman. I ask the members to proceed with amendments 
in the order of the roster. I think we just have the one 
amendment.
    The Chair would recognize the gentlewoman from Maryland for 
an amendment.
    Mrs. Morella. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just have a 
technical amendment.
    The Chairman. The Clerk will report the amendment.
    The Clerk. Amendment to H.R. 2779 offered by Mrs. Morella--
--
    The Chairman. Does the gentlelady ask unanimous consent 
that the amendment be considered as read?
    Mrs. Morella. Indeed I do.
    [The text of the amendment follows:]
             Amendment to H.R. 2779 Offered By Mrs. Morella
    Page 1, lines 16 through 18, strike ``construction contracting 
officers are requiring as a condition of obtaining Federal'' and insert 
in lieu thereof ``agencies are requiring as a condition of obtaining 
Federal construction''.
    Page 4, line 24, through page 5, line 4, amend paragraph (8) to 
read as follows:
          ``(8) `small business' has the meaning given the term `small 
        business concern' in section 3 of the Small Business Act (15 
        U.S.C. 632).''.
    Page 5, lines 5 through 19, amend section 4 to read as follows:

SEC. 4. IMPLEMENTATION EXCEPTIONS.

    The Metric Conversion Act of 1975 (15 U.S.C. 205a et seq.) is 
amended by inserting after section 11 the following new section:
    ``Sec. 12. (a) In carrying out the policy set forth in section 3 
(with particular emphasis on the policy set forth in paragraph (2) of 
that section) a Federal agency may require that specifications for 
structures or systems of concrete masonry be expressed under the metric 
system of measurement, but may not require that concrete masonry units 
be converted products.
    ``(b) In carrying out the policy set forth in section 3 (with 
particular emphasis on the policy set forth in paragraph (2) of that 
section) a Federal agency may not require that lighting fixtures be 
converted products unless the predominant voluntary industry consensus 
standards are hard-metric.''.
    Page 5, lines 21 and 22, strike ``(15 U.S.C. 205j-1), as amended'' 
and insert in lieu thereof ``as added''.
    Page 6, line 1, strike ``(d)'' and insert in lieu thereof ``(c)''.

    The Chairman. You are recognized for 5 minutes to offer the 
amendment. The gentlelady is recognized for 5 minutes.
    Mrs. Morella. Really, I don't need 5 minutes, I don't even 
need 1 minute, Mr. Chairman, because this amendment reflects 
the consensus that was arrived at when all parties came 
together, and it ends up being a technical amendment, which I 
believe all sides would approve of.
    The Chairman. The gentlelady is correct. This is a 
technical amendment.
    Is there any further discussion of the amendment?
    If not, the Chair will put the question. Those in favor of 
the amendment say aye; those opposed, say no.
    The ayes have it. The amendment is agreed to.
    Are there further amendments to the bill?
    Mr. Ehlers. Mr. Chairman, I don't have an amendment, but I 
wish to discuss the bill.
    The Chairman. The gentleman is recognized.
    Mr. Ehlers. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    I would like to offer some comments on this bill. I did 
attend the first hearing that was held on this and participated 
in the hearing and the questioning.
    It is absolutely essential that our Nation continue to move 
in the direction of the metric system. It has cost us 
innumerable billions of dollars that we have not done so 
before.
    The history of this goes back to Thomas Jefferson, who 
recommended to the Congress that we adopt the metric system. It 
was a close vote. The Congress rejected it by a small margin 
because the cost to the Nation would be $7 million. Since that 
time, that action of Congress has cost us billions upon 
billions of dollars.
    What is often overlooked in talking about conversion to the 
metric system and the discussions of the cost of the conversion 
is the cost of not converting, the lost opportunities for 
commerce abroad, which has plagued some major industries in the 
past. Fortunately, industries are overcoming them by adopting a 
metric system de facto and simply saying we have to do it to 
compete. So when you go down to Sears and buy a tool box today, 
you are as likely to get metric as you are to get the English 
system. But that is a cumbersome and slow way to do it.
    What concerned me about the testimony offered by the two 
industries that are asking for this relief, the lighting 
fixture industry and the cement block industry, is that they 
don't want to change at all. And I would have no problem with 
giving them some additional time, but I don't see a time 
deadline in here for ending this particular action of going to 
soft metric for a while.
    As an example, the concrete block industry is arguing that 
it would cost them a lot of money to change their molds to make 
the small change that is needed in the size of the cement 
blocks. But when I asked them, ``If we adopted this 
legislation, would you--when your molds wear out and you have 
to buy new molds anyway, will you put in metric molds?'' And 
the answer is no, they want to keep things going the way they 
are.
    Similarly with the lighting appliance industry, if they do 
not wish to make metric fixtures, they are thereby excluded 
from the world market because the rest of the world uses the 
metric system. I think that is something that the entire 
lighting industry should get into if we hope to improve our 
competitive position on that.
    I don't have an amendment to offer, Mr. Chairman. I do plan 
to vote against the bill but do want to raise my objections 
simply because I think we have to be more aggressive in 
adopting the metric system in this country. And if we are going 
to give relief in cases where it is needed--and it does appear 
it is needed here--it should be with a definite cutoff date to 
ensure that the industries involved will eventually join the 
rest of the world in using the metric system.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr. Volkmer. Will the gentleman yield?
    Mr. Ehlers. I will be happy to yield.
    Mr. Volkmer. Did both of these industries feel then that 
they do not have any export market in the future, even if you 
change to metric?
    Mr. Ehlers. I think it is fairly evident that the concrete 
block would not have much of an export market except near the 
Canadian and Mexican borders. The product is simply too heavy 
to transport.
    The lighting appliance industry, if they come up with 
imaginative appliances, certainly could have an international 
market. In fact, we are just completing some remodeling in our 
house, and I am surprised at the number of fixtures that we 
looked at that were made in other countries and shipped into 
the U.S. So obviously that is an international market, and I 
believe the lighting industry could meet that.
    Mr. Volkmer. And that lighting industry in the other 
markets is made by metric. It is metric. All the others you 
looked at were all metric?
    Mr. Ehlers. I cannot verify whether or not they were 
metric. There is a lot of slop in construction, as you well 
know, and typically they were marked in both systems of units.
    Mr. Volkmer. Thank you.
    Mr. Largent. Mr. Chairman, I would just like to ask a 
couple of questions.
    First of all, I can tell you, I have some reservations. I 
mean, when you think about converting things like an ounce of 
precaution prevents a pound of cure, and you give an inch, you 
take a mile, converting that to the metric I think is going to 
be very confusing to a lot of us.
    But beyond that, I was going to just ask Mrs. Morella about 
the Section 5. It talks about the head of each executive agency 
that awards construction contracts shall designate a senior 
agency official.
    Am I to understand then that we are not creating new 
positions that will be--I mean, is there a cost to this bill? I 
guess that is the bottom line.
    Mrs. Morella. No, Mr. Largent, it would not involve any new 
bureaucracy. It would be the existing personnel, and this would 
be reflected--it is a good point--this would be reflected in 
the report language.
    The Chairman. And no additional cost, I would say to the 
gentleman.
    Are there any other statements?
    If not, the Chair will put the question on H.R. 2779, the 
Savings in Construction Act of 1996. Those in favor will say 
aye; those opposed will say no.
    In the opinion of the Chair, the ayes have it.
    Mr. Tanner?
    Mr. Tanner. Mr. Chairman, I move that the committee report 
the bill, H.R. 2779, the Savings in Construction Act of 1996, 
as amended.
    Furthermore, I move to instruct the staff to prepare the 
legislative report, to make technical and conforming 
amendments, and that the chairman take all necessary steps to 
bring the bill before the House for consideration.
    The Chairman. The committee has heard the motion. All in 
favor say aye; those opposed will say no.
    The ayes have it. The motion is agreed to.
    Without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid upon 
the table.
    The gentleman from Michigan?
    Mr. Ehlers. Mr. Chairman, I move, pursuant to clause 1 of 
Rule XX of the Rules of the House of Representatives, that the 
committee authorize the chairman to offer such motions as may 
be necessary in the House to go to conference with the Senate 
on the bill, H.R. 2779, the Savings in Construction Act of 
1996, or a similar Senate bill.
    The Chairman. The members have heard the motion. Those in 
favor will say aye; those opposed will say no.
    The ayes have it.
    This concludes the markup on H.R. 2779.
    Before I adjourn today's markup though, I am going to make 
a statement with regard to the need to cancel this morning's 
hearing. That is all the business that we have before the 
committee, and we will have no more votes.
    But I must express my disappointment that the hearing to 
examine research funding in the out years originally scheduled 
for today had to be postponed.
    I first would like to commend Dr. Albert Teich of the 
American Association for the Advancement of Science, who stood 
ready to testify. I regret the cancellation but look forward to 
his testimony at a later date in July.
    However, I was surprised on Monday when three of the four 
witnesses from the administration informed the committee that 
they could not attend on their scheduled day of a two-part 
hearing, after my staff had specifically scheduled these dates 
to accommodate their calendars. My surprise turned to 
frustration when I learned that OMB is not inclined at this 
time to send anyone to testify.
    A number of recent events led me to schedule this hearing. 
On May 8, Dr. Martha Krebs, the director of energy research at 
DOE, testified before the Subcommittee on Energy and 
Environment of the Science Committee. She stated that the 
President's proposed reductions on energy research programs 
were ``applied in a mechanical way and that they do not 
represent policy.''
    Understandably, her comments caught my attention.
    Meanwhile, Dan Goldin, the NASA Administrator, testified in 
the Senate and before our Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee 
that he has been assured by OMB not to worry about the out-year 
numbers.
    These statements began to concern me.
    Then, last week, NSF Director Neal Lane repeated in a 
letter to me that, ``As the administration has acknowledged, 
detailed program-by-program decisions had not been made at this 
time, at the time that the budget was released.''
    My concern was intensified.
    At the same time, the former director of OMB, Alice Rivlin, 
publicly maintains that the President did what the Congress 
asked: Developed a budget which achieves balance by 2002, as 
scored by the Congressional Budget Office.
    However, in April CBO determined that the President's 
budget relies on $67 billion in additional unspecified cuts in 
discretionary spending in the last 2 years beyond the specified 
but now disavowed cuts in 1998 through the year 2002.
    Without these extra cuts, his budget leaves a deficit of 
$81 billion in 2002, but the administration refuses to indicate 
where those reductions will be made.
    This is the pattern of inconsistency which led me to call 
the hearing. Who are we to believe? Are the out-numbers real? 
If not, I repeat the appeal of some of my colleagues in the 
Senate who ask if the President's out-year numbers are not 
real, and the Administration chooses to deny the additional $67 
billion in cuts required to eliminate the deficit, ``then we 
must respectfully suggest that you cease referring to the 
President's plan as a balanced budget.'' That is a quote by the 
Senate.
    Or do we believe the President when he says his budget is 
balanced? If so, the administration officials must acknowledge 
the deep cuts President Clinton has already proposed in basic 
research in the next 6 years and must specify where the 
additional $67 billion in cuts will fall.
    Despite today's setback, it is with optimism that I intend 
to reschedule this hearing for July. Only after we are able to 
sort through the conflicting claims made by agency heads and 
the White House officials can we begin to examine the real 
effect of the out-year numbers and what those out-year numbers 
will mean in civilian research and development.
    After all, if we are truly concerned about the future of 
science, we must have a thoughtful planning about the future.
    With that, this hearing is adjourned.
    [Whereupon, at 1:42 p.m., the committee was adjourned.]