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First Source Employment Program

For more than 30 years, the First Source Employment Program has been an important part of the District of Columbia’s strategy to reduce unemployment in the city. 

First Source ensures that city residents are given priority for new jobs created by municipal financing and development programs.  Over the years, various amendments were added to strengthen or relax requirements.  Under the law, 51% of all new hires on any government-assisted project or contract between $300,000 and $5,000,000 must be District residents.

Another amendment allows the exemption of job categories if specific people in the labor force are not available.

The Way to Work Act of 2006 expanded coverage beyond the construction field by expanding the definition of contracts to include any recipient that receives government assistance from the District government, and it defined direct beneficiaries to include retail and commercial tenants.

The Workforce Intermediary Establishment and Reform of First Source Amendment Act of 2011 made substantial changes to the First Source law, including the following:

  • Eliminates contracts under $300K from First Source obligations, and
  • Requires that each government-assisted construction project receiving government assistance totaling $5 million or more must have the following percentage of District of Columba residents on those projects:
    • 20% of journey worker hours
    • 60% of apprentice hours
    • 51% of skilled laborer hours
    • 70% of common laborer hours

Every First Source hire begins with a formal written agreement between the employer (contractor or subcontractor) and DOES.  The first agreement is that the employer will “use DOES as its first source for the recruitment, referral and placement of employees.”  The agreement spells out other specifics required under the District’s original First Source law and its amendments.