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ABC member Thomas Mistick April 14 told the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections that the Department of Labor (DOL) fails at administering the Davis-Bacon Act and that the law is “fatally flawed,” echoing the findings of an April 6 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The hearing was titled, “Examining the Department of Labor's Implementation of the Davis-Bacon Act.” 

Mistick, principal of Church Restoration Group, Cranberry Township, Pa., testified that the Davis-Bacon Act, as administered by the DOL, “hinders economic growth, increases the federal deficit, and imposes an enormous paperwork burden on both contractors and the federal government.” 

Mistick called the problems with the DOL’s administration of Davis-Bacon, “part of a consistent series over literally decades in which the department fails to produce accurate numbers.” Mistick added that DOL does not set true “prevailing” wages, but instead often issues wage determinations that are often inflated above market rates. 

“We have to be able to say out loud that if 13 percent of the workforce belongs to a union and 65 percent of our data points are union rates, that’s wrong and that’s what we need to address,” Mistick said.  “I don’t see any impetus after 80 years of trying to really get it right at the Department.” 

Noting other problems, Mistick also cited the lack of timeliness of the surveys, the lack of clarification for job classifications, and the onerous certified payroll process. 

As a solution to Davis-Bacon’s ongoing issues, Mistick called for the act to be repealed and for acceptable wage rates to be set by the market through open and competitive bidding.  

“At a time of shrinking public construction budgets, the Davis-Bacon Act’s fundamentally flawed system is arbitrarily limiting the amount of construction that can be built by needlessly increasing project costs.  Jobs have been lost, businesses have closed and taxpayers are getting four buildings for the price of five because of this broken process,” Mistick said. 

An archived web cast of the Davis-Bacon hearing can be viewed here