Deputy Administrator for Program Operations (WHD), Thomas M. Markey
Statement of Thomas M. Markey
Deputy Administrator for Program Operations,
Wage and Hour Division,
Before the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections
Committee on Education and the Workforce
United States House of Representatives,
April 14, 2011
Chairman Walberg, Ranking Member Woolsey, and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to talk with you today about the role of the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) in Davis-Bacon Act wage determinations and enforcement. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss WHD's efforts to reengineer the Davis-Bacon Survey Program and our work to revitalize the enforcement of Davis-Bacon requirements on federally funded construction projects.
The principle underlying the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA) is simple to ensure that the Federal Government's extensive contracting activity does not have the unintended consequence of depressing workers' wages. Since its enactment in 1931, the DBA has ensured minimum compensation levels for construction workers based on the wages paid in a given locality and has provided a level playing field for all contractors in the construction industry. Construction is a labor-intensive sector of the economy, often with multiple layers of contracting and subcontracting. Without the DBA and the over 60 Davis-Bacon "related Acts" that contain Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements, the Federal contracting agencies, state and local governments, and recipients of Federal grants who are responsible for federally funded or assisted construction projects might never assume direct responsibility for the wages of the laborers and mechanics who build our nation's buildings, pave our roads, dig our trenches, and maintain our infrastructure.
The DBA and the standards that it imposes on the Federal government and recipients of Federal funds ensure that hard-working middle class Americans will not see their wages and benefits undercut by Federal spending practices. As important, these standards enable local contractors and subcontractors to compete for local projects by protecting them from underbidding by contractors who import workforces from outside the local community. As Secretary Solis' vision for the Department of Labor appropriately articulates, it is about "Good Jobs for Everyone."
Today, the Federal government continues to construct buildings, build dams, and fund housing projects. State highway departments pave roads with Federal funds from the Federal Highway Administration. Local and State governments build water treatment plants, modernize schools, and renovate airports. Many of these projects are funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), which appropriated substantial funding for construction, alteration and repair of Federal buildings and for infrastructure projects. The DBA therefore is as relevant today as it was when it was first enacted, and it continues to provide stable wage rates and benefits that attract higher-skilled labor. And by attracting higher-skilled workers who are both experienced and productive, construction projects are more often completed on time and at lower cost.
The average annual earnings for construction workers in May 2009 was $43,350 not significantly higher than the average annual earnings for construction workers reported in 1995, when the Department last testified on the DBA before the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. The industry remains particularly susceptible to economic fluctuations that bring on periods of high unemployment and underemployment, as we have seen in the most recent recession that began in December 2007. When Federal construction causes a sudden significant increase in the demand for local labor in a high unemployment labor market, absent a prevailing wage requirement, there is a strong downward pressure on local wages as the unemployed and underemployed are drawn into the area for work. The Davis-Bacon and related Acts provide the safety net for those local workers, their construction companies, and their communities.
DOL and Davis-Bacon Wage Determinations
The longstanding mission of the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation's workforce. To this end, the WHD is responsible for administering and enforcing some of our nation's most comprehensive federal labor laws covering, among other things, requirements and obligations relating to minimum wage and overtime pay, recordkeeping, child labor, family and medical leave, migrant work and worker protections in certain temporary worker programs, and the prevailing wages for government service and construction contracts.
The Davis-Bacon Act requires that all contractors and subcontractors performing work on federal contracts in excess of $2,000 for the construction, alteration, or repair of public buildings or public works (and contractors or subcontractors performing on federally assisted contracts under the related Acts) pay their laborers and mechanics not less than the prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits listed in the contract's Davis-Bacon wage determination for corresponding classes of laborers and mechanics employed on similar projects in the area. Davis-Bacon labor standards clauses must be included in covered contracts. Since the 1990s, WHD has focused on improving the accuracy and timeliness of DBA wage determinations by reengineering the DBA survey program and providing the best opportunities for increasing stakeholder participation. During the last 24 months in particular, WHD has reevaluated and changed various administrative processes, addressed recommendations from various audits, improved outreach, and enhanced enforcement. These changes of the last two years are already producing positive results.
For example, the survey backlog is gone. The only surveys being processed in the system at this time are recent surveys and some of these surveys are nearing publication. Additionally, the time needed for survey analysis (cutoff date to on-site verification) has decreased from 2-5 years to less than 12 months.
The 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit of the Davis-Bacon Survey Program at issue in today's hearing analyzed WHD's IT system, the timeliness and accuracy of the survey process, the effectiveness of WHD personnel, and the performance measures WHD employed. Prior to the audit, WHD was already engaged in addressing many of these issues, but, as WHD staff acknowledged to the GAO auditor, WHD's improvements to its DBA survey program are ongoing.
WHD has adopted a systematic approach to effect improvements in the wage determinations IT system. From 2005 through January 2011, twenty-nine (29) major releases and updates were made to WHD's Automated Survey Data System (ASDS) and seventeen (17) major releases and updates were made to the Wage Determination Generation System (WDGS). The changes were designed to increase the speed of processing so that surveys could be completed and published in a more timely fashion. In 2007, a "bridge" connecting both of these IT systems (an enhancement that had been discussed in WHD's May 2006 report to Congress) became operational, thereby allowing improvements to survey performance measurements and other reports.
These IT improvements have enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of myriad tasks performed both by the WHD's analysts and by the agency's contract staff at the University of Tennessee's Construction Industry Research and Policy Center (CIRPC). For example, the usual time needed to complete basic business processes, such as loading F.W. Dodge reports that identify construction projects within a particular geographic area, has been reduced from three weeks to one hour; the time needed to prepare documents for on-site verification has been reduced from one month to one day; and area practice resolution by WHD staff has been reduced from weeks to one day.
IT development and resulting changes to the survey process to further increase the accuracy and timeliness of DBA wage surveys and wage determinations are still ongoing. Also, improvements to reports used to assess the performance of both WHD analysts as well as the overall program continue to be developed and implemented.
Process (Timeliness and Accuracy)
Prior to the 2011 GAO audit, WHD began reviewing survey processes in the key areas in which there was substantial time expenditure by staff (WHD and contract staff). Many of the large time expenditures were reduced by IT improvements. For example, the time spent by WHD survey analysts on administrative/clerical type functions was greatly reduced when WHD modified the University of Tennessee contract, thereby freeing WHD staff to concentrate on analysis and clarification of data. Regional WHD analysts are now performing analysis and clarification of data within two weeks of the receipt of such data. Despite a large amount of data still being received on the survey cut-off date, processing time is quicker than before because all other data is reviewed and processed by the cut-off date. Currently, contractor, third party, and on-site verification are being performed within an average of six to eight months from survey cut-off date compared to the 12-15 months it took prior to 2010.
Early IT problems had caused a backlog of surveys awaiting on-site verification, analysis, review, and publication. In 2005, there were 22 statewide surveys in WHD's Automated Survey Data System (ASDS) that had been started in the years 2002 through 2004. This backlog of surveys in the data system affected the start of new surveys. To remedy this, changes were made to the IT program allowing cross-regional work and, as a result, new surveys were started in 2007. Additionally, all of the 22 "old" surveys were completed and published either in FY 2009 or in FY 2010.
Beginning in 2002, new statewide surveys were conducted of all four types of construction (residential, highway, building, and heavy) in an effort to maximize responses. Because they covered all four types of construction at one time, the surveys were very large and clarification and analysis became much more difficult. In 2009, WHD determined that it would be more efficient for residential and highway surveys to be conducted separately, while continuing to conduct building and heavy construction statewide surveys concurrently because the same universe of contractors are engaged in both building and heavy construction. Additionally, most building construction is related to heavy construction, i.e., site prep and utility infrastructure.
Concerning highway construction, because many state Department of Transportation (DOT) offices conduct state surveys of highway construction using the same payment data used by WHD in their surveys, WHD contacted all state DOTs regarding state conducted highway construction surveys to obtain their data and survey information. For those states in which highway surveys were not conducted by the state, WHD began working with those states to obtain certified payroll data so that WHD could conduct the survey. Based on this effort, 33 states now work with WHD to issue and maintain current prevailing highway wage rates. Three states (Arkansas, Mississippi, and Utah) were surveyed by WHD, and new highway rates were published in 2008. WHD will also publish 11 statewide highway surveys funded under the Recovery Act in 2011 (Oklahoma, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Nebraska, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Colorado, Louisiana, and Florida). WHD will work with the state DOTs on the three remaining states (Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Idaho) to obtain state data or conduct a survey in 2012. Also in 2012, WHD will schedule new highway surveys for Arkansas, Mississippi, and Utah. Upon publication of these surveys, WHD will have met its goal of having all surveys of highway construction completed with results (wage rates) published within the last three years. WHD will then develop a survey plan with a schedule of publishing rates for 17 states each year so that highway construction wage rates are based on data no older than three years.
Residential surveys are the most difficult of all surveys to conduct because the construction projects are small and the contractor response rate is the lowest of all survey types. As a result, WHD decided to conduct these surveys separately so that additional calls and/or visits to contractors to solicit participation could be made. WHD began its revised residential construction program in 2010 with a statewide survey of Missouri. Residential surveys of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon will follow in 2011 and 2012.
WHD has increased the number of both its Federal survey staff in the regional offices as well as contract staff at the University of Tennessee to provide support for the increased number of surveys and the reduced timeframes in which surveys are to be concluded.
In 2006, the WHD national office established a new yearly training program for all of the field offices in each region. Training is also provided to University of Tennessee staff by WHD national office personnel.
Additionally, WHD has drafted a new manual of operations. Once approved, it will be posted on the WHD Intranet for use by staff as well as on the agency's public website. Moreover, with each new update to WHD's IT systems (WDGS and ASDS), a training guide is now also prepared and training on the new release is provided to analysts. WHD prepared a comprehensive user manual for each of the automated systems in 2008. The manuals are updated with each release and are maintained on the WHD Intranet.
Yearly planning meetings are held with the Regional Wage Specialists (RWS), Senior Wage Analysts, and National Office staff. Monthly conference calls are held with all regional and national office staff. In addition, regular calls as well as on-site visits are made to contractors.
From 2004 through 2009, the only performance measure that WHD reported for the Davis-Bacon Survey Program was related to the processing of wage determinations submission ("WD-10") forms, which measured only how efficiently WHD staff processed the survey forms. However, in 2006, WHD instituted additional performance measures for this program to address the timeliness of the DBA wage survey and wage determinations program. The age of wage rates, the period of time from completion of the survey to publication, and the time required to conduct surveys are now measured. Reports measuring these items are in ASDS and WDGS and are calculated based on the work processes performed in the system.
The 2011 GAO Report indicates that start dates are being entered into the system differently by regions and, therefore, the ability to accurately measure the survey timeliness is affected accordingly. However, the surveys reviewed and discussed in the 2011 GAO report were entered into ASDS in early January 2009, prior to the date when a new survey time tracking report was implemented in the October 2009 ASDS release. This accounts for the differences in reporting by the regions. In the planned April 2011 release, ASDS will automatically populate the fields when the region enters data so there will be uniformity in reporting. This report, along with the analysts' time reports, will allow WHD to monitor the processes in which large amounts of time are being spent and allocate resources accordingly.
Analyst time tracking reports were incorporated into ASDS in 2009, enabling supervisors to monitor the time spent by analysts in survey processing and in specific tasks. Additionally, all WD-10s reviewed and submitted by analysts are also reviewed by the senior wage analyst in each region and feedback is given immediately to the analysts. All of these initiatives have resulted in more accurate reporting of information, allowing, among other things, WHD national office personnel to monitor the time spent in specific survey activities. Additionally, new performance standards were also developed for the FY 2010 rating cycle for WHD regional and national office survey and wage determinations staff. These standards are closely aligned to the agency's program performance goals and measures.
As documented in the foregoing, WHD has implemented numerous changes over the last five years. As GAO acknowledges with respect to timeliness, it is too early to assess the effects of Labor's 2009 changes. This is also true with respect to other process improvements that WHD has implemented over the last two years. For building and heavy construction, the new processes instituted in 2009 and 2010 broke down the survey process for these types of construction into discrete tasks and estimated how long each task should take, with a goal of completing building and heavy surveys in a shorter period of time (19 months). There were five surveys in the pilot: Montana, Wyoming, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia. The 2011 GAO Report states that WHD is behind schedule in each of these surveys. The pilot program was developed to test this process, refine it, and eventually meet the estimated goal of 19 months. Of the nine building and heavy statewide surveys started in 2009 with data collection cut-off dates from December 31, 2009, to February 28, 2010, four surveys (Montana, Wyoming, New Hampshire, and Vermont) are being published now; three surveys (North Carolina, South Carolina, and Maine) will be published in next two months; and two surveys (West Virginia and Nebraska) are in on-site verification and will be published in the summer of 2011. This is an average of 24 months from the time the survey was entered in the system to publication and an average of 12 months from the survey cut-off date to publication. This clearly indicates that WHD has substantially reduced the time in every process as compared to five or ten years ago. WHD continues to make improvements to the survey process in order to reach its goal of a 19-month turn around time period.
In addition to conducting and completing all of the above surveys, WHD conducted and completed a building, heavy, highway, and residential survey of Guam in 2010, and a residential weatherization construction survey of 50 states and Washington D.C. in 2009. The weatherization construction survey in particular stands out as a significant accomplishment for WHD as the agency completed it within 3 months. The Department of Energy's weatherization program received $5 billion as a result of the Recovery Act. The Recovery Act also applied Davis-Bacon Act provisions to the program for the first time because Congress wanted to assure that workers employed on Recovery Act-funded projects were paid the legally mandated wages and benefits. WHD initiated and completed the prevailing wage rate surveys during July and August 2009 and published weatherization rates for more than 3,000 counties by September 3, 2009. After publication, it was discovered that due to the inexperience of some community action agencies with the Davis-Bacon survey requirements, some of the data submitted to WHD had errors. As a result, WHD decided to re-verify all the submitted survey data to ensure the data was accurate and reliable. WHD then published revised prevailing wage rates for weatherization in December 2009.
Guam will continue to be surveyed every year in accordance with the legal requirements concerning Federal construction projects on Guam. The further reduction of survey time should continue as more and more of the survey and wage determination processes are being automated and improved.
As WHD conducts surveys more frequently in accordance with the new processes outlined above, the age of the surveys addressed in the 2011 GAO Report with contractors and unions should be reduced. New wage surveys of states surveyed in 2002 are already being conducted. Surveys of Georgia, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont are currently being conducted. Surveys of Florida, Utah, and Nevada are planned for late 2011.
The 2011 GAO Report also refers to the quality of representation and responsiveness in WHD's survey results. WHD has already taken steps to address this concern. Notably, the December 2010 ASDS release has provided the capability to track responses for every contractor and interested party, and the April 2011 release will give us additional reporting capability. The automatic breakdown by construction type will occur later in 2011. This will only affect building and heavy construction surveys as they are conducted together as one survey. However, as discussed in the 2011 GAO Report, since these efforts are ongoing it is premature to assess their effectiveness at this time.
The 2011 GAO Report discusses the lack of incentive for stakeholders to participate in the survey process. Despite an aggressive outreach program to increase participation in the survey process from all parties, including small contractors and their associations, the Davis-Bacon survey is still a voluntary survey. See 29 CFR 1.3(a). Many of the shortcomings in the surveys arise from the voluntary nature of the survey process.
There is also a discussion in the 2011 GAO Report about reporting errors. The errors mentioned in the report were found in the data verification process of the survey and typically (if not always) resulted from errors in the information provided by survey respondents, not from errors by WHD employees. WHD's survey submission form (WD-10) asks responders to report on the multiple types of work performed by each classification for which they are reporting data. WHD then bases rates on the work performed by the classification. While the 2011 GAO Report states that 19 of 27 interested parties (70%) interviewed by GAO found the forms easy to use, WHD believes any confusion by any stakeholder is undesirable. It is important to note, however, that many of the errors discovered during on-site verification do not impact the accuracy of the wage rates, such as recording the wrong name or address of the contractor, or not reporting the correct contract amount. These all get counted as errors but have no impact on the wage rates themselves.
The 2011 GAO Report at page 27 indicates that errors may have occurred because WHD did not pretest a redesigned form. However, this form is not a new form. It is the old WD-10 data placed on a scannable format. Over time there has been a substantial increase in electronic wage determinations submissions; and therefore, a decision was made to make changes to this format to allow respondents to save data, etc. so as to ease the information collection process on the part of the participant. As noted in the 2011 GAO Report, WHD has indicated that another update is planned to address portions of the form that respondents find confusing. These changes may only be implemented with the approval of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in coordination with the U.S. Census Bureau, and in conjunction with changes to ASDS. The effectiveness of these changes cannot be assessed until after implementation.
The 2011 GAO Report indicated that stakeholders found problems with the transparency of the process. WHD agrees that greater transparency would enhance the process and the agency has already identified a number of improvements that could be implemented. These improvements range from improvement to the WHD website, including additional information on the surveys and survey data, to more descriptive language on the wage determinations.
In every WHD wage survey, contact is made with unions and contractor associations. For the Florida and New York surveys mentioned in the 2011 GAO Report, the contractor associations did not respond to WHD's offers of pre-survey briefings. WHD will continue to work with the contractor associations, unions, and other interested parties to increase participation and to solicit the necessary wage information. As surveys are conducted more regularly, WHD anticipates that participation in the pre-survey briefings and in the surveys themselves will become routine for the stakeholders, thus decreasing confusion and increasing overall response rates.
2011 GAO Recommendations
The 2011 GAO Report contains two recommendations for WHD. The first recommendation suggests that the Secretary of Labor direct WHD to enlist the National Academies or other independent statistical organization to evaluate and provide objective advice on the wage survey. WHD has previously enlisted McGraw Hill Construction Analytics, a firm of leading industry economists with expertise in construction analysis, trends, and forecasts, to assess WHD's process and operations. The recommendations from McGraw Hill, which WHD provided to the GAO auditor, have been implemented and are beginning to bear fruit. Given that further changes to the process are currently being implemented or will be implemented in the near future, contracting to a different organization to evaluate the efforts of WHD may be premature, especially in light of cost considerations. WHD will, nevertheless, explore options for seeking independent evaluation of the survey methodology and identify organizations or academics that may have expertise in this area.
The second recommendation states that the transparency of wage determinations needs to be improved. The wage determinations are housed on the website "WDOL." The WDOL website is the result of a collaboration of the Department of Labor, OMB, National Technical Information Service, General Services Administration, and Department of Defense. Consequently, any changes to the Website must be made in collaboration with these other entities and cannot be made unilaterally by the Department of Labor. WHD, however, agrees with the recommendation that the public should have more information to clearly understand the information being requested and the calculations and codes that are used on the wage determinations. As indicated above, WHD is already undertaking steps to address these concerns.
DBA Enforcement and Compliance Assistance
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, in addition to focusing on reengineering the Davis-Bacon Survey Program, WHD also increased and enhanced its DBA enforcement and outreach activities, pursuing opportunities made possible with funds from the Recovery Act to implement new enforcement and outreach strategies with the objective of realizing Secretary Solis' vision of Good Jobs for Everyone.
DOL's commitment to improving compliance for workers on DBA covered construction projects is particularly important because the DBA does not provide for a private right of action to collect prevailing wages that are legally owed to them. Additionally, enforcement of the DBA provisions, as stated earlier, ensures that wage rates in local communities are not adversely impacted by an influx of workers who are willing to work at wages below those paid in the local area. Construction workers who work in high wage areas should not lose out on opportunities to work on Federal projects in their communities because workers from other areas are willing to take the jobs for less pay. The infusion of Federal dollars into communities should never be the trigger that depresses wages.
In FY 2010, WHD pursued an aggressive enforcement and outreach program, targeting for DBA compliance 660 contractors and 51 projects funded under the Recovery Act. In addition, WHD reinforced its policy to accept third party complaints regarding DBA noncompliance. As a result, in FY2010, WHD found over $7.4 million in back wage compensation owed to 3,716 employees on DBA-covered projects. Additionally, in FY 2010, WHD completed 1,087 DBA and Recovery Act investigations. As a comparison, in FY 2008, WHD completed 406 DBA investigations.
In part, WHD was able to achieve this measurable improvement after creating a new Senior Investigator Advisor (SIA) position, deploying 33 existing investigators to serve as SIAs in various locations across the country. These advisors were responsible for overseeing all Recovery Act investigations, training, and coaching other WHD investigators in DBA enforcement principles, and providing training and outreach to various stakeholders in the Federal contracting community. Because basic skills in DBA enforcement had diminished throughout the agency over the last ten years, training was undertaken at various levels of the organization on a nationwide basis.
WHD also expanded its efforts to educate contractors and workers about their rights and responsibilities on DBA-covered work. To reach as large an audience as possible, WHD conducted a series of free Prevailing Wage Conferences on the laws and regulations applicable to Recovery Act projects. Specifically, these conferences included program seminars on the Davis-Bacon Act, the McNamara-O-Hara Service Contract Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act; the process of obtaining wage determinations and adding classifications; WHD's compliance and enforcement processes; and the process for appealing wage rates, coverage and compliance determinations.
The initial conferences in Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Orlando; Long Beach; San Antonio and Boston were intended to reach all geographic areas of the country. In FY 2010, WHD conducted three more Prevailing Wage Conferences in Guam, New Orleans, and Cleveland. Altogether, total registrations at these conferences exceeded 2,170. Due to the success and positive response WHD received from these conferences, the agency announced that it will host five more conferences in FY2011 in Melbourne, FL; New York City; Phoenix; Denver; and Las Vegas.
In addition to the Prevailing Wage Conferences, WHD also increased its specific outreach to employers and employer associations to provide compliance assistance and education. The agency made presentations to the National Association of Women in Construction, the Independent Electrical Contractors, the Power and Communication Contractors Association, the Professional Services Council, and the Associated General Contractors of America, and met with 370 minority/women-owned construction companies. WHD also developed a webpage dedicated to providing all of our government contract stakeholders with up-to-date compliance assistance materials regarding the DBA, SCA, and the prevailing wage requirements under the Recovery Act.
In addition, WHD provided compliance assistance to various contracting agencies and hundreds of contracting officers, and responded to technical assistance requests from many prime contractors and recipients of federal financial assistance awards, including grant recipients of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Commerce for construction of fiber optic lines under the Broadband USA program, as well as recipients and contractors performing work under various Department of Energy programs, including the Weatherization Assistance Program. WHD participated in outreach events hosted by the President's Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board including the production of a You Tube video that highlights DBA requirements on Recovery Act funded projects. WHD also found opportunities to conduct Recovery Act workshops and staff information booths at broader events such as the 2010 DOL Informational and Outreach forum at Rice University in Houston, TX.
On March 31, 2011, the DOL Office of the Inspector General (OIG) published an audit of WHD's DBA wage determinations and enforcement processes, particularly the agency's utilization of Recovery Act funding. The objectives of the audit were to determine whether WHD: (1) provided adequate compliance assistance/outreach to ensure Recovery Act contractors and subcontractors complied with the DBA; (2) conducted timely prevailing wage complaint and directed investigations, in accordance with applicable policies and regulations; and (3) issued timely and reliable prevailing wage determinations in response to the Recovery Act, in accordance with applicable policies and regulations.
The OIG's published report validates WHD's efforts to improve outreach, enhance enforcement of the DBA provisions, and reengineer the Davis-Bacon Survey Program. Specifically, the OIG determined that: (1) WHD outreach efforts were extensive and effective; (2) WHD used Recovery Act funds to shift the overall focus of DBA investigations using initiatives that have resulted in lasting improvements to the investigation program; and (3) WHD conducted timely surveys and established reliable prevailing wage determinations required by the Recovery Act as illustrated by WHD's use of Recovery Act funds to update 10 DBA highway surveys, and quickly issue rates for DOE's weatherization program. The OIG did not make any recommendations for improvement.
WHD has implemented program goals and objectives for FY 2011 that will continue targeting Recovery Act project investigations for DBA compliance, providing outreach opportunities for educating stakeholders on the DBA requirements, and aggressively pursuing complaints of DBA violations with an emphasis on targeting and debarring contractors who commit repeat or serious DBA violations.
Secretary Solis has consistently stated that all of the work of the Department of Labor is focused on achieving Good Jobs for Everyone. The Labor Department's vision of a "good job" includes jobs that:
- increase workers' incomes and narrow wage and income inequality;
- assure workers are paid their wages and overtime;
- are in safe and healthy workplaces, and fair and diverse workplaces;
- provide workplace flexibility for family and personal care-giving;
- improve health benefits and retirement security for all workers; and
- assure workers have a voice in the workplace.
To achieve this goal, the Department is using every tool in its toolbox, including increased enforcement actions, increased education and outreach, and targeted regulatory actions. These unifying themes seek to foster a new calculus that strengthens protections for workers and results in significantly increased compliance.
Eighty years after its enactment, the Davis-Bacon and related Acts continue to protect the wages of hard-working Americans as they build our nation's infrastructure. In addition to providing a stable and fair contracting environment for businesses that perform construction covered by Davis-Bacon labor standards, the Acts ensure that construction workers receive appropriate prevailing wages that contribute to the quality of their lives and to the communities in which they live.
WHD is doing its part in this endeavor by reengineering the Davis-Bacon Survey Program and enhancing enforcement of the DBA requirements to ensure workers are paid the wages they are legally owed and that the injection of Federal construction funds into communities does not depress the wages of the local workforce. These efforts help to increase workers' incomes and narrow wage and income inequality, and they ensure the sustainability of American's hard-working middle class.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am happy to answer any questions the Subcommittee may have on the Department of Labor's work to improve the accuracy and timeliness of DBA wage determinations and to enhance DBA enforcement.