Published date: 06/16/2021

Welcome to the world of public works construction, where you’ll become very familiar (more than you would like, I’m sure) with terms like Davis-Bacon and certified payroll reports (CPR).

For those just getting started on federal government construction projects (or those looking for a refresher), you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s get right to it…

What is the Davis-Bacon Act?

The Davis-Bacon Act, or DBA for short, is a United States federal law that mandates the payment of local prevailing wages on public works projects.

This means any time there is construction, alteration, or repair work done on public buildings or any public works – like bridges, roads, or highways – DBA requirements apply.

We go into more detail about the Davis-Bacon Act here in this article. We also have one-page guides to download and print that give you a crash course in Davis-Bacon for agencies and  Davis-Bacon for contractors.

Who needs to comply with this law?

In short, all awarding bodies and contractors on publicly funded projects.

On the awarding body side (which is typically a public agency), the agency is responsible for enforcing compliance by making sure workers are getting paid prevailing wages. This means collecting CPRs and other required compliance documentation, among many other responsibilities.

On the contractor side, both the prime contractor and every subcontractor reporting to them – including lower-tier subs (the subcontractors of your subcontractors) – must comply with DBA requirements. Subcontractors are responsible for paying prevailing wages and submitting certified payroll reports, among other requirements. The prime contractor is responsible for doing the same for their employees; however, they also carry the additional obligation of collecting and reviewing CPRs from the other contractors on the project. Ultimately, they must monitor the compliance of all subs.

What is a certified payroll report?

A CPR is an official compliance document that is required on publicly funded projects. It details the worker’s information, type of work performed, wages, benefits, and hours worked. On Davis-Bacon projects, the form typically used is federal form WH-347. It’s worth noting that some states, counties, or cities may have their own prevailing wage requirements and may then have their own CPR format.

How and where do I submit certified payroll reports?

Contractors generally submit CPRs to the prime contractor, and the prime then submits to the awarding body overseeing the project. The prime contractor and/or awarding body will have individual requirements on how they collect CPRs. Some adopt electronic systems that allow contractors to submit certified payroll reports online; others collect them via other methods, like postal mail, email, or hand delivery.

Also, keep in mind, if your project involves state funds, other CPR submission requirements may apply. For example, states like California and Washington have an additional requirement to submit CPRs electronically on state-maintained web portals.

Are there consequences for submitting incomplete or inaccurate information on CPRs?

Yes, there are consequences, and you want to do your best to avoid them. Submitting incomplete or inaccurate CPRs, or failing to submit CPRs altogether, could be deemed as non-compliance. This failure to comply can result in withholding of payments, negative audits (which could potentially mean fines), early contract termination, and for the more egregious violations, possible debarment and civil or criminal prosecution.

What is the most efficient way to help ensure Davis-Bacon and certified payroll requirements are being met?

As mentioned above, there are electronic systems available on the market to assist with this. LCPtracker Professional helps manage labor compliance and certified payroll reporting for prime contractors and awarding bodies/public agencies.

LCPcertified is another cloud-based application that assists with certified payroll reporting, but this system is geared more towards contractors who only have to manage CPRs for their own employees and do not have subcontractors reporting to them.

For a guided tour of either of these electronic systems or any of LCPtracker’s products, please complete this form to connect with one of our product specialists.

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