Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Best Practices for Monitoring Federal Prevailing Wages on Public Construction Projects

Federal prevailing wage requirements on public works construction projects requires that the contractor and all subcontractors, regardless of tier, submit weekly certified payrolls to the public agency.

Audit finding:  Some public agencies with federal funding on a project do not pay attention to the requirement for weekly payrolls.  Sometimes, they don't collect the payroll reports at all, or they collect them in batches from the contractor (not weekly), or collect them at the end of the project.  The largest county in Washington, King County, received a finding in 2012 from the Washington State Auditor's Office (see page 56) for failing to enforce the submission of weekly payroll reports.  Instead, the county collected payrolls at the end of their projects. 

Best practices:  If you have public works construction projects with federal funding, pay attention to the following:
  • Frequency:  Are you collecting payroll reports weekly from the contractor and all subcontractors?
  • Subcontractors:  Do you have a system for determining what subcontractors are working on site?
  • Reviewing payrolls:  Are you reviewing the certified payroll reports on a weekly basis to ensure that prevailing wages are being paid to the workers?  As part of your review, are you evaluating the following: a) whether the classifications reported are appropriate, b) the hourly wage rate is at least the prevailing wage rate, c) the proper overtime rates are being paid, d) apprentices are registered apprentices who may be paid less than the journey-level wage, e) the payroll report is signed by an authorized individual?  
  • Documenting your review:  Are you documenting your review of the payrolls by marking the payroll reports?
  • Weekly pay:  Are you monitoring to ensure that the contractor and their subcontractors paying their workers on a weekly basis?  This is required by the federal Davis-Bacon Act.
  • Worker interviews:  Are you interviewing a representative sample of workers on-site, asking them questions about what work they are performing and how much they are being paid?  Are you correlating this information with what is reported on weekly payroll reports?
  • Invoices:  Do you have a process that ties in your approval of a contractor's monthly pay application and invoice with your review and approval of the weekly payroll reports?
Note:  This blog posting is a repeat of one from December 4, 2012.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2013 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC 

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