Republican Committee Leaders Investigate Davis-Bacon Expansion

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Washington D.C., Jul 11, 2013 | comments

House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO), House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI) today sent a letter to the Department of Labor requesting documents and communications concerning its recent decision to overturn decades of policy and apply Davis-Bacon wage requirements to survey technicians.

“Compliance with federal mandates have a disproportionately greater impact on small businesses compared to their larger counterparts,” said Chairman Graves. “A majority of survey technicians are small businesses and a decision like this should be debated openly and transparently so that all stakeholders can have a say, and it should be carefully studied for its impact on those that will be affected. It is disappointing that the Obama administration did not engage in a regular rule-making process on an issue so important to the construction industry.”

“The department’s application of the Davis-Bacon Act is deeply flawed, yet it continues to expand the scope of the law,” said Chairman Kline. “The most recent example is the department’s decision to apply Davis-Bacon wage requirements to survey crews. At the behest of union leaders, the Obama administration overturned nearly 60 years of federal policy with little notice and no public input. The American people are tired of Washington bureaucrats cutting deals behind closed doors on behalf of special interests.”  

"Labor secretaries since the Eisenhower administration have recognized survey crews engage in pre-construction activity and are exempt from the Davis-Bacon Act,” said Rep. Walberg. “With no justification, the Obama administration has decided to change course. Not only is this a significant change to long-standing policy, it’s not even ready for prime time. The department hasn’t collected the wage data necessary for survey crews to follow the law. I hope the department will give workers and taxpayers the facts they deserve on this important issue."

BACKGROUND: Since 1955, the Department of Labor has not applied Davis-Bacon requirements to survey crews. On March 22, 2013 the department released a guidance letter and All Agency Memorandum (AAM) reversing its long-standing policy in order to apply Davis-Bacon requirements to survey technicians. The department did not solicit public comment. Furthermore, at a recent Workforce Protections Subcommittee hearing, a representative for the National Society of Professional Surveyors stated the department engaged in no outreach to affected stakeholders.

To understand the process by which the department arrived at this change in policy and its full effect, committee leaders are requesting by July 25:

      • All communications related to the promulgation of this policy change;
      • All legal memorandum or other supportive material related to the policy change;
      • All public outreach and notices advising this change was under consideration;
      • The date DOL posted the AAM on its website;
      • A timeline for completing a wage determination for this new classification;
      • Implementation guidance for contracting officers; and
      • All economic analysis conducted regarding this change to federal contracts.

To read the letter, click here.

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