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Wage and Hour Division
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Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

Government Contracts

Construction Surveys

Determining Wage Rates

Federally financed or assisted construction projects subject to the Davis-Bacon and related Acts (DBRA) must contain a prevailing wage determination (WD). The wages on the WD are typically determined by surveying ongoing or recently completed construction projects within a geographic area. WHD conducts the surveys of projects under construction or completed during a set survey time frame in an effort to gather specific wage rate data paid to the various classifications of workers found on construction projects. Federal and federally assisted construction work is broken out into four different types of construction for which WHD gathers wage rate data and issues wage determinations:

Survey Types


Includes sheltered enclosures with walk-in access for the purpose of housing, persons, machinery, or supplies



Includes construction, alteration or repair of single family houses or apartment buildings of no more than four stories in height



Includes roads, streets, runways, highways or other similar projects



Is a catch-all grouping that includes projects not properly classified under the other three types of construction

All Agency Memoranda (AAM) 130 and 131 collectively establish guidelines and provide detailed information regarding the four types of construction. WHD gathers wage rate data and issues wage determinations for these four types of construction.

AAM No. 213: Application of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts requirement that wage rates for additional classifications, when “conformed” to an existing wage determination, bear a “reasonable relationship” to the wage rates in that wage determination

For more information on the wage survey process, click here.

Public Inquiries and Requests

All DBRA survey inquiries, general requests, and survey appeals should initially be directed to the WHD Regional Office that conducted the survey. If the requestor wishes to appeal the decision made at the regional office level, then a request for review and reconsideration may be made to the Wage and Hour Administrator (See 29 CFR Part 1.8). If an interested party wishes to appeal the decision of the Administrator, an appeal may be filed with the Administrative Review Board (ARB). (See 29 CFR Part 7.) The ARB's decisions in such appeals are final. An explanation of this appeals process is found at the end of every published wage determination.

Conformance Requests

DBRA WDs often do not contain every classification of workers needed for the work to be performed on every contract. When this occurs, the DBRA regulations contain a conformance procedure for the purpose of establishing a DBRA-enforceable wage and benefit rate for missing job classifications. CFR 29 Part 5.5(a)(ii) sets the criteria that must be met to obtain a rate for an unlisted classification. See the Conformance Requests page for more information.