Davis-Bacon Wage Determinations

Davis-Bacon Act (Excerpt From 40 U.S.C. § 3142)

The advertised specifications for every [covered] contract in excess of $2,000 . . . shall contain a provision stating the minimum wages to be paid various classes of laborers and mechanics.

. . . The minimum wages shall be based on the wages that the Secretary of Labor determines to be prevailing for the corresponding classes of laborers and mechanics employed on projects of a character similar to the contract work in the civil subdivision of the State in which the work is to be performed, or in the District of Columbia if the work is to be performed there.

[Emphasis added.]

Physical Inclusion Of Wage Determination(s) in Bid Specifications And Contract

DOL regulations, at 29 C.F.R. Part 1, establish the procedures for predetermining the wage rates required to be included in bid specifications/contracts for construction projects to which the Davis-Bacon and related Acts apply. (See excerpt, above, from the Davis-Bacon Act.) The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) also discuss the application of proper wage determinations in 48 C.F.R. Subpart 22.4 - "Labor Standards for Contracts Involving Construction."

It is important for the actual wage determination(s) to be physically included in the bid specifications/contract. Contractors need to see the minimum wages they will be required to pay while they develop their cost estimates for work to be performed. Most Davis-Bacon wage determinations are available at www.wdol.gov.

It is generally the responsibility of the federal agency that funds or assists Davis-Bacon covered construction:

  1. To ensure that the proper Davis-Bacon wage determination(s) is/are applied to such construction contract(s). (See 29 C.F.R. § 1.5, and 1.6(b)).
  2. To advise contractors which schedule of prevailing wages applies to various construction items if a contract includes multiple wage schedules.
  3. To be able/ready to advise contractors regarding the duties performed by the various crafts in the wage determination, if they inquire. If two or more classifications in the applicable wage determination may perform the work in question, an area practice survey may be required. Where the classifications are from a single sector of the industry (union or non-union), data needs to be collected only from that sector of the construction industry (for the type of construction involved). Where union and non-union-based classifications are involved, the data should be obtained from both segments. (See the "area practice" section of the materials in the "DB/DBRA Compliance Principles" chapter, below, for a detailed discussion of area practice surveys.)

Questions and disputes regarding the application of the proper Davis-Bacon wage determination(s) to covered construction projects should be referred to the WHD Branch of Construction Wage Determinations.

It can be disruptive and costly for an agency to correct a situation where a covered contract is awarded without a wage determination, or with the wrong wage determination (i.e., a wage determination that by its terms or according to the requirements of 29 C.F.R. Part 1, further discussed below, clearly does not apply to the contract). When this happens, corrective action is required:

The agency shall terminate and resolicit the contract with the valid wage determination, or incorporate the valid wage determination retroactive to the beginning of construction through supplemental agreement or through change order provided that the contractor is compensated for any increases in wages resulting from such change. The method of incorporation of the valid wage determination and adjustment in contract price, where appropriate, should be in accordance with applicable procurement law. [29 C.F.R. § 1.6(f)].

General And Project Wage Determinations

The WHD issues two types of Davis-Bacon wage determinations: general determinations and project determinations.

The term "wage determination" includes not only the original decision but any subsequent decisions modifying, superseding, correcting, or otherwise changing the rates and/or scope of the original decision.

General Wage Determinations (GWDs)

  1. GWDs are now in effect nationwide for most counties for each general type of construction - building, residential, highway, and heavy. In many areas separate schedules are also issued for sewer and water line construction, for dredging, and for certain other types of projects which would otherwise be categorized as "heavy" construction.
  2. Annual editions of the GWDs are issued in the first quarter of each calendar year ("rollover"). Each annual edition supersedes the previous GWDs, and the wage decision numbers reflect the year of a new edition.
  3. Any changes in wage rates on the GWDs are made in weekly updates, generally on Friday, and are reflected in modification numbers on the GWD.
  4. On September 26, 2005, the Wage Determinations On Line website (https://beta.sam.gov/search?index=wd) became the official site for all Davis-Bacon GWDs. This is a free on-line service. The hard copy publication previously available through the Government Printing Office of the Superintendent of Documents is no longer published.

Project Wage Determinations

Project Wage Determinations are obtained on a case-by-case basis for individual projects where:

  1. There is no GWD in effect for a county/type of construction needed for an upcoming project, or
  2. Virtually all the work on a contract will be performed by a classification that is not listed in the GWD that would otherwise apply and bid opening/award has not yet taken place.

To request a project wage determination, a Standard Form 308 (SF-308) "Request for Determination and Response to Request" should be used by the agency (normally a federal agency).

  1. If the project involves multiple types of construction, the requesting agency should attach information indicating the expected cost breakdown by type of construction.
  2. The time required for processing requests for a wage determination varies according to the facts and circumstances in each case. An agency should anticipate that such processing will take at least 30 days.
  3. The completed SF-308 should be sent to:
    U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division
    Branch of Construction Wage Determinations
    Washington, D.C. 20210
  4. SF-308's can be downloaded from the "Library" section of the WDOL website (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/government-contracts/construction/forms/sf-308). The SF-308 is also available at FAR 48 C.F.R. § 53.301-330.

Project decisions are applicable only to the particular project for which they are issued and are effective for 180 days. If a project decision is not used in the period of its effectiveness, it is void.

  1. Accordingly, if it appears that a wage determination may expire between bid opening and contract award, the agency should request a new project wage determination sufficiently in advance of the bid opening to assure receipt prior thereto.
  2. However, when due to unavoidable circumstances, a project wage determination expires before award but after bid opening (or other date specified in 29 C.F.R. § 1.6(a)(1) for certain HUD programs), an extension of the project wage determination's expiration date may be requested from and granted by the WHD Administrator if certain conditions are met. (See "Wage Determination Extensions," below.)

"Special" Project Wage Determinations are issued for retroactive application to covered contracts let without a Davis-Bacon wage determination, or with a wage determination which by its terms or the provisions of 29 C.F.R. Part 1 clearly does not apply to the contract - for example, if a wage determination for the wrong county or an out-of-date wage decision has been included in an awarded contract, and there was no GWD in effect for the given county and type of construction at the time of contract award. 29 C.F.R. § 1.6(f).

Modifications And Supersedeas Decisions

Both GWDs and project wage determinations may be modified or superseded from time to time.

  1. Wage determinations are normally updated either:
    1. to apply the results of a new survey, or
    2. to update union rates to reflect collectively bargained changes in wage and fringe benefit rates (escalators) for classifications for which negotiated rates have been determined to be prevailing (for a given type of construction in the given geographic area).
  2. "Supersedeas wage decisions" replace the prior GWDs, and carry wage decision numbers that reflect the new year. Supersedeas decisions have a modification number of "0"followed by the date of issuance.
  3. "Modifications" are listed numerically on the wage determination modification record for that year's edition. The date of issuance of the modification follows the modification number. A modification to a GWD replaces the entire GWD that it modifies.

Wage Determination Extensions And Clerical Error Corrections

Extensions

Bid solicitation documents must be amended to include modifications to a GWD or a new project wage determination (if the project wage determination expired); unless the contracting/assisting agency requests an extension from the WHD and the WHD Administrator grants the extension. An agency may request an extension after bid opening if:

  1. GWD: Award does not take place within 90 days after the bid opening,
  2. or

  3. Project wage determination: The determination expires prior to award.

For certain HUD-assisted projects, different dates apply to when an extension may be requested. 29 C.F.R. §§ 1.6(c)(2)(iv) and 1.6(a)(1), respectively.

A request for an extension must be supported by a written finding, including factual support that the extension is necessary and proper in the public interest to prevent injustice or undue hardship or to avoid serious impairment in the conduct of government business.

Example: A public commission must review bid documents after bid opening and before award, and the prospective bidders have agreed to continue their bids in effect during the review period.

Correction Of Inadvertent Clerical Errors

Upon his or her own initiative, or at the request of an agency, the WHD Administrator may correct any wage determination if she/he finds that the determination contains an inadvertent clerical error. Such corrections shall be included in any on-going contracts containing the wage determination in question, retroactively to the start of construction, and also in any bid specifications containing the wage determination (for example, after bid opening). 29 C.F.R. § 1.6(d), reiterated in the FAR at 48 C.F.R. § 22.404-7.

Selecting The Proper Wage Determination(s)

The DBA requires the DOL to determine prevailing wage rates for inclusion in covered contracts based upon those paid to "corresponding classes of laborers and mechanics employed on projects of a character similar to the contract work in the civil subdivision of the State in which the work is to be performed, or in the District of Columbia if the work is to be performed there. . . ." (Emphasis added.)

A "wage determination" is the listing of wage rates and fringe benefit rates for each classification of laborers and mechanics which the WHD Administrator has determined to be prevailing in a given area (usually a county) for a particular type of construction.

Consider these three basic factors in selecting Davis-Bacon wage determinations:

  1. Location
  2. Type of Construction
  3. Current Wage Determination(s)

Selecting The Proper Wage Determination(s)

The DBA requires the DOL to determine prevailing wage rates for inclusion in covered contracts based upon those paid to "corresponding classes of laborers and mechanics employed on projects of a character similar to the contract work in the civil subdivision of the State in which the work is to be performed, or in the District of Columbia if the work is to be performed there. . . ." (Emphasis added.)

A "wage determination" is the listing of wage rates and fringe benefit rates for each classification of laborers and mechanics which the WHD Administrator has determined to be prevailing in a given area (usually a county) for a particular type of construction.

Consider these three basic factors in selecting Davis-Bacon wage determinations:

  1. Location
  2. Type of Construction
  3. Current Wage Determination(s)

Location

It is a longstanding practice that Davis-Bacon wage determinations are made on a county-by-county basis. Identify the State and county where the construction work will be performed. In some cases a project may be located in more than one county and/or State. In such cases include the proper wage determinations for each county/State where work is to be performed under the contract. The bid specifications must also include instructions specifying the contract work to which each wage determination applies.

Type Of Construction

"Multiple Types Of Construction" Versus "Incidental Construction"

All Agency Memorandum No. 131 provides further guidance, particularly on the application of multiple wage determinations for projects that involve more than one type of construction.

  1. Where a project includes construction items that in themselves would be classified differently with regard to type of construction, multiple classification(a) as to type of construction may be justified if such items are a substantial part of the project.
  2. The application of wage schedules/determinations for more than one type of construction is appropriate if such items that fall in a separate type of construction will comprise at least 20% of the total project cost and/or cost at least $1 million.
  3. Generally, if such items that in themselves would be classified as a separate type of construction will be less than 20% of the total project cost and will cost less than $1 million, they are considered incidental to the primary type of construction involved on the project, and a separate wage determination is not applicable, unless there is an established local area practice to the contrary.
  4. Where multiple wage determinations are incorporated into the bid specifications/ contract it is very important also to provide instructions specifying the contract work to which each wage determination applies. 29 C.F.R. § 1.6(b), reiterated in the FAR at 48 C.F.R. § 22.404-2.
    1. Such instructions are needed not only when the wage determinations for different types of construction (and/or locations) are in separate "Wage Decisions," but also where wage determinations for various types of construction (and/or counties) have been consolidated into a single "Wage Decision." (This has often been done for administrative convenience in issuing wage determinations.)
    2. Because of the complexities in the application of multiple schedules, the contracting agency should consult with the WHD Branch of Construction Wage Determinations to resolve any questions.

Projects Of A Similar Character

As a matter of longstanding policy, DOL has distinguished four general types of construction for purposes of making prevailing wage determinations: building construction, residential construction, heavy construction, and highway construction. All Agency Memoranda Nos. 130 and 131 provide guidance in the application of this policy. Generally, for wage determination purposes, a project consists of all construction necessary to complete a facility regardless of the number of contracts involved, so long as all contracts awarded are closely related in purpose, time, and place.

All Agency Memorandum No. 130 - "Application Of The Standard Of Comparison 'Projects of a Character Similar' Under the Davis-Bacon And Related Acts" - provides general descriptions of each general type of construction and includes lists of examples in each general category. In brief:

  1. Building Construction includes the construction, rehabilitation and repair of sheltered enclosures with walk-in access for the purpose of housing persons, machinery, equipment, or supplies.

  2. Residential Construction includes the construction, rehabilitation, and repair of single family houses, townhouses, and apartment buildings of no more than four (4) stories in height.

  3. Highway Construction includes the construction, alteration or repair of roads, streets, highways, runways, parking areas and most other paving work not incidental to building or heavy construction.

  4. Heavy Construction is a "catch-all" category which includes those projects which cannot be classified as Building, Residential or Highway. Heavy construction is often further distinguished on the basis of the characteristics of particular projects, such as dredging, water and sewer line, dams, major bridges and flood control projects.

Any questions or disputes regarding the appropriate classification of a project with regard to type of construction should be referred to the WHD for resolution prior to bid opening (or other appropriate wage determination lock-in date; a discussion of "lock-in-dates" may be found in the "Area Practice" section of the "" chapter of this Resource Book.) A request for a ruling should include a complete description of the project and other relevant information, such as wage payment data from similar construction projects in the local area, documentation of the views of parties in dispute, and other material interested parties wish to have considered. This may be appropriate where questions arise concerning the proper categorization of an entire project or particular portions of a project. (Below is a brief discussion on how to determine when multiple wage schedules should be applied to different types of construction to be performed on a project and when lesser portions of a project will be considered incidental to the main type of construction to be performed.)

General Wage Determinations (GWDs)

How To Locate A GWD

DBA Wage Determination

The WDOL web site (https://beta.sam.gov/search?index=wd) contains all current wage determinations as well as previous modifications to the wage determinations (archived wage determinations) and a listing of the wage determinations to be modified in the next publication cycle.

Current, archived, or due to be revised Davis-Bacon wage determinations can be found by selecting one of these options from the "Davis Bacon Act" main menu:

  • Selecting DBA WDs
  • Archived WDs
  • WDs to be revised

Current GWDs

DBA Wage Determination

A current wage determination can be obtained by choosing "Selecting DB WDs" from the Davis Bacon Act Main Menu (illustrated below) and then by:

  • Entering the wage decision number, if known,
  • OR

  • Entering selection criteria, which will automatically select the applicable wage determination by:
    1. State
    2. County
    3. l Type of Construction
    4. OR

    5. Browsing by state/territory
DBA Wage Determination

Each of these methods is illustrated on the following sample screen.

By WHD Number

Select DBA WD by number:

(Enter WD number in the following format: two letter abbreviation for the state and the number of the WD. For example, VA3, NOT VA030003 or MD150 NOT MD030150.)

Search

OR

DBA Wage Determination

By Selection criteria

State:

ALABAMA

County:

All

Construction Type:

All Construction Types

(Types of Construction Under DBA)

WD Number:

AL1

Search

OR

By State

Browse by state/territory.

Search

Previous (Archived) GWDs

A previous modification of a wage determination can be obtained by choosing "Archived WDs" from the "Davis Bacon Act" Main Menu and entering the publication year of the wage determination and the wage determination number as illustrated in the sample screen below).

  1. Archived Davis-Bacon Act Wage Determinations
  2. When DBA WDs are revised, the current revision is available on WDOL.gov (Selecting DBA WDs). The old WD is archived on this page. (Archived WDs are for Information Purposes Only: WDOL User's Guide: Sec. C.4.e )
  3. Search:
  4. Enter a DBA WD Number: (Enter DBA WD numbers in the following format: two-letter abbreviation for the state, and the number of the WD. For example, DBA WD "VA030003" is entered "VA3"; DBA WD "MD030150" is entered "MD150")

Future GWDs (to be revised)

A listing of the wage determinations scheduled to be modified in the next publication cycle can be obtained by choosing "WDs due to be revised" from the "Davis Bacon Act" Main Menu as illustrated below in the sample screen.

  1. Davis-Bacon Act Wage Determinations Due To Be Revised
  2. The following DBA General Wage Determinations have been revised or created new and will be available at WDOL.gov on or after October 12, 2007
  3. AL070056 WITHDRAWN
    CA070001
    CA070002
    CA070004
    CA070009
    CA070013

How To Interpret A GWD

Each wage determination begins with a cover sheet that defines its applicability by:

  1. The decision number.
  2. The number of the decision superseded, if applicable.
  3. State(s) covered.
  4. Type of construction (building, heavy, highway, and/or residential).
  5. County(ies), parishes, and/or city(ies) covered.
  6. Description of the construction to which the wage determination applies and/or construction excluded from its application.
  7. Record of modifications, including the initial publication date, modification numbers and dates.

The cover sheet is illustrated in the sample screen below.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------General Decision Number: LA130007 08/17/2007 LA7

Superseded General Decision Number: LA20120007

State: Louisiana

Construction Type: Heavy

Counties: Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St Bernard, St Charles, St James, St John the Baptist and St Tammany Counties in Louisiana.

HEAVY CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS (includes flood control, water & sewer lines, and water wells. Also includes elevated storage tanks in all listed parishes except Plaquemines and St. James. Excludes industrial construction-chemical processing, power plants, and refineries)

Modification Number Publication Date
0 01/04/2013
1 01/18/2013

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Classifications, Basic Hourly Rates & Fringe Benefits

In the body of each wage determination is the listing of classifications (laborers and mechanics) and accompanying basic hourly wage rates and fringe benefit rates that have been determined to be prevailing for the specified type(s) of construction in the geographic area(s) covered by the wage determination.

  1. Classification listings may also include classification groupings, fringe benefit footnotes, descriptions of the geographic areas to which sub-classifications and different wage rates apply, and/or certain classification definitions.
  2. Above each classification (or group of classifications) listed, an alphanumeric "identifier" and date provide information about the source of the classification(s) and wage rate(s) listed for it. The discussion of "Classification Identifiers," below, focuses on information about the source of a rate (union or non-union).
  3. In wage determination modifications, an asterisk ("*") is used to indicate that the item marked is changed by that modification.

  1. An example of this information is illustrated below:
  2. ---------------------------------------------------------------
    PLUM0060-002 06/04/2012
    JEFFERSON, ORLEANS, PLAQUEMINES, ST. BERNARD, ST. CHARLES, ST. JAMES (Southeastern Portion), ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, and ST. TAMMANY PARISHES
                                                      Rates Fringes
    PLUMBER/PIPEFITTER (excluding
    pipe laying).............................$ 26.88 10.42
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    * PLUM0198-005 07/01/2007
    ST. JAMES PARISH (Northwestern Portion):
                                                      Rates Fringes
    PLUMBER (excluding pipe
    laying)....................................$ 25.04 10.38
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    SULA2004-007 05/13/2004
                                                      Rates Fringes
    CARPENTER (all other work).$ 13.75 2.60
    Laborers:

    1. Common/Landscape........$ 9.88 0.00
    2. Fence..............................$ 11.24 0.00
    3. Flagger.............................$ 8.58 0.00
    4. Mason Tender..................$ 7.25 0.00
    5. Pipelayer..........................$ 9.84 0.00
    PIPEFITTER (excluding
    pipelaying)...............................$ 17.52 4.51
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

Project Wage Determination Request Form, SF-308

DBRA Standard Form (SF) 308

DBA Wage Determination

"Request For Wage Determination And Response To Request"

(Davis Bacon Act as Amended and Related Statutes)

This form is used by a Federal agency to obtain an applicable wage determination for a construction project not covered by a published wage determination.

If you're familiar with Adobe® Acrobat® Reader® and its use go ahead and get Standard Form (SF) 308.

If you need a little help to print the form, please follow these instructions:

  1. The Standard Form (SF) 308 is only available electronically in PDF format. PDF forms can be viewed with Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free utility available at http://get.adobe.com/reader/.
  2. Click on the link for the Standard Form (SF) 308 and wait for it to load into the viewer.
  3. To print, you may need to click on the printer icon within the Acrobat Reader instead of the browser's print feature.



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