Davis-Bacon Act (DBA)

  • Enacted in 1931, amended in 1935 and 1964
  • 1935 amendments - predetermination language
  • 1964 amendments - fringe benefits
  • 2002 Congress revised without substantive changes, and codified the DBA provisions at 40 U.S.C. §§ 3141 et seq.

Purpose of DBA

  • To protect communities and workers from the economic disruption caused by competition arising from non-local contractors coming into an area and obtaining federal construction contracts by underbidding local wage levels.

DBA Requirements

  • The DBA requires the locally prevailing wages determined by DOL to be included in the bid specifications for covered contracts and paid to workers employed under such contracts.
  • The DBA applies to federal government and District of Columbia contracts in excess of $2,000 for construction, alteration, or repair (including painting and decorating) of public buildings and public works.
    1. Examples:
    2. - General Services Administration contracts to build federal office buildings.
    3. - Department of Defense contracts to paint and remodel a military base office building.
  • Prevailing wages are determined in advance by the DOL National Office and included in the bid specifications for covered contracts.
  • The language of the Davis-Bacon Act requires contractors and subcontractors to pay "all mechanics and laborers employed directly on the site of the work, unconditionally not less often than once a week, and without subsequent deduction or rebate on any account, the full amounts accrued at time of payment, computed at wage rates not less than those stated in the advertised specifications, regardless of any contractual relationship which may be alleged to exist between the contractor or subcontractor and the laborers and mechanics." 40 U.S.C. § 3142.
    1. DBA requirements apply to contractors and subcontractors.
    2. "Laborers or mechanics" must be paid at least "prevailing wages."
    3. DBA applies only to employment on the "site of the work."
    4. The laborers and mechanics must be paid weekly.
    5. Persons performing the duties of laborers and mechanics must be paid the prevailing wage rate regardless of any contractual arrangement, e.g., an independent contractor or owner-operator relationship.
    6. The wage determination (including additional classifications and wage rates approved under the "conformance" process) and the Davis-Bacon poster (WH-1321) must be posted by the contractor and its subcontractors at the site of the work in a prominent and accessible place where they can be easily seen by the workers.

DBA Coverage

  • The DBA applies to contracts "in excess of $2,000, to which the Federal Government or the District of Columbia is a party, for construction, alteration, or repair, including painting and decorating, of public buildings and public works." 40 U.S.C. § 3142.
  • In considering DBA coverage on contracts in excess of $2,000, three criteria apply:
    1. Is the agreement a contract to which the Federal Government or the District of Columbia is a party?
    2. Is the agreement a "contract for construction"?
    3. Is the "contract for construction" a contract for the construction of a public building or public work of the United States or the District of Columbia?

Within the meaning of the DBA, "public building or public work" includes a "building or work, the construction, prosecution, completion, or repair of which, as defined above, is carried on directly by authority of or with funds of a federal agency to serve the interest of the general public regardless of whether title thereof is in a Federal agency." 29 C.F.R. § 5.2(k).

  • The DBA applies to public buildings and public works of the Federal Government or the District of Columbia within the geographic limits of the 50 States of the United States and the District of Columbia.
  • The DBA also applies in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as a result of a unique relationship established between the Northern Mariana Islands and the United States under the "Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America."
  • The DBA does not apply to federal construction contracts in Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands or other territories; however, some "related Acts" which provide federal assistance to construction activities in these territories require the payment of DBA prevailing wage rates.

Consulting Services We Provide

  • Review public works preconstruction contracts
  • Monitor DIR contractor/subcontractor certified payrolls
  • Audit labor classification for each worker employed
  • Review DIR pre-DAS 140/142 submissions
  • Review CAC training fund contributions form CAC-2
  • Review DIR Fringe Benefits Statement PW-26
  • Monitor DIR wage determinations
  • Audit fringe benefits allowances
  • Review DIR holiday payment requirements
  • Audit DIR travel & subsistence requirements
  • Caltrans Labor Compliance
  • County of Sacramento Labor Compliance
  • City of Los Angeles Labor Compliance
  • Los Angeles Unified School District Labor Compliance
  • Federal Davis-Bacon Project Monitoring
  • Federal DBE Implementation & Review
  • Federal FAA AIP Goal Setting
  • DIR & Davis-Bacon Training
  • DIR Civil Wage Penalty Review
  • Local-Hire Review (e.g., San Francisco)
  • Skilled and Trained Workforce

Give us a call to discuss your labor compliance requirements.

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or legal opinions on any specific facts or circumstances.

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