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In testimony June 18 before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, ABC General Counsel and shareholder with Littler Mendelson, P.C., Maurice Baskin said the Department of Labor’s (DOL) administration of the Davis-Bacon Act has, “hindered economic growth, increased the federal deficit and imposed an enormous paperwork burden on both contractors and the federal government.”

The Davis-Bacon Act is an 80-year-old wage subsidy law administered by DOL that mandates “prevailing” wages for employees of contractors and subcontractors performing work on federally financed construction projects. In his testimony, Baskin focused on DOL’s dysfunctional wage survey process. 

“The department continues to use antiquated and outmoded wage and survey methods that guarantee inflated and erroneous wage determinations all over the country, inflating the cost of federal construction to taxpayers,” Baskin said.

Baskin pointed out that the department continues to rely on wage surveys containing unacceptably low response rates instead of using sound statistical samples already made available through other government data collections. In recent years, the department also has violated its own rules by importing wage rates from labor markets hundreds of miles apart. The resulting wage determinations bear little relation to actual local wages in the areas surveyed, Baskin said. 

“ABC and others have repeatedly called on DOL to explore using alternative data to determine wage rates – such as data collected through the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics program,” Baskin said. “DOL has refused to make this correction to the wage survey process, and has not provided any rational explanation.”

Baskin also talked about DOL’s failure to provide contractors with enough information to accurately determine work assignments for individual job classifications and the huge paperwork burden placed on contractors when submitting weekly certified payroll reports.
Watch an archived video of the hearing here: