Published date: 09/21/2021
In a perfect world, prevailing wage compliance would be so easy that you could do it with your eyes closed. But those in the public works realm – both contractors and awarding bodies alike – know that this couldn’t be further from the truth… unless you’ve found the ‘secret sauce’ to uncomplicating compliance.
Agencies that award public works contracts play a big role in the compliance process. A quick summary of their responsibilities include:
- Monitoring and enforcing compliance with Davis-Bacon (DBA) requirements;
- Including the correct wage determination(s) in the contract and 29 CFR 5.5 in all subcontracts;
- Providing written guidance for multiple wage determination use;
- Conducting field wage interviews;
- Reviewing certified payroll reports (CPR) for compliance;
- Enforcing restitution and corrected CPRs if applicable; and
- Using the conformance process to request missing classifications
Ultimately, agencies must make sure that their contractors are complying with federal, state, and/or local prevailing wage regulations. And if you’re an agency overseeing a project with many contractors and tens, if not hundreds, of employees under each of them, enforcing compliance can seem like a very difficult and messy process.
But lucky for us, we’re in the age of modern technology and we now have this thing we call ‘the cloud’.
Compliance on the Cloud
Just like most solutions, compliance has gone to the cloud. What does that mean exactly? It means that there are now electronic solutions that uncomplicate the complicated aspects of labor compliance. And these technologies are now SaaS-based (Software as a Service), which means you simply need a web browser and an internet connection to access the software.
That’s right – no software installations needed on your desktop or laptop. And the best part – you can access certified payroll reports, documentation, and your other compliance data from anywhere.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Electronic solutions just make life easier all around for agencies, and here are the top ways they do that.
Top Ways Electronic Solutions Uncomplicate Compliance
Reason #1: It does the heavy lifting for you
As we mentioned above, one of the main responsibilities that agencies have is reviewing certified payrolls for compliance. Let’s once again imagine that project with tiers upon tiers of contractors and hundreds of employees working under them. Since certified payroll is required weekly, the sheer amount of CPRs that your contractors are submitting each month really add up. It can be a tedious process, especially if you’re still taking the traditional route of collecting and reviewing CPRs manually.
This is where an electronic solution can help. Often, prime contractors collect CPRs from their subcontractors in an effort to mitigate their own risk, and then in turn, they submit the CPRs to the agency. With an electronic solution in place, agencies simply provide their contractors with access to their system (permissions are customizable so you can control third-party access), and the contractors submit their CPRs directly inside the system.
You as the agency just simply need to log on and review the CPRs digitally. And depending on the application you adopt, the system can lend a tremendous amount of help here and alert you of any ‘red flags’ on reports – which is a great segue for reason #2…
Reason #2: You can spot ‘red flags’ and follow up more efficiently
If you are reviewing CPRs manually, you’re most likely looking out for ‘reg flags’. And if you do come across something amiss on one of the reports, you would probably pick up the phone or write up an email addressed to your contractor. Sometimes – probably more frequently than you’d like – it turns into a game of ‘tag’ and is filled with missed calls and/or back-and-forth emails.
With an electronic system, errors or omissions on CPRs are usually picked up automatically through mathematical or logical checks built into the software (be sure to check any labor compliance software you are evaluating beforehand to make sure it has this functionality). In addition, following up on a CPR issue is more straight-forward when using an electronic software. If you come across a detail that needs more clarification or if you notice missing information, you can communicate directly with your contractor in the system. Your contractor then receives the communication, makes any changes necessary to the CPR, and re-submits. Quick and simple.
Reason #3: It makes field wage interviews a breeze
Per Davis-Bacon, field wage interviews are a normal part of the compliance process for agencies, and it’s another area where electronic systems shine. Let’s imagine your investigators on a job site, equipped with a clipboard and the SF-1446 form (the typical form used for wage interviews). They proceed interviewing workers about their wage and the work they perform, and once back in the office, the documented responses are manually cross-checked with the data that’s submitted on CPRs.
Now, let’s re-play the same scenario again, but this time we’ll factor in technology to streamline this process. Instead of a clipboard with paper documents, the investigators are equipped with an electronic tablet. And loaded on that tablet is a mobile application with a digital version of the form ready to go. Your investigators begin interviewing employees (who are already pre-loaded into the mobile app), record their responses directly in the app, and head back to the office. Unlike the first scenario, there’s no need to manually cross-check the data gathered out in the field with data submitted on CPRs for those workers. The mobile app is already synced with your system and is doing the checking for you. Talk about streamlined!
Big disclaimer, however – not all electronic systems have a interview module that syncs with CPR data, so be sure to research electronic system functionalities thoroughly before making a final call.
Reason #4: You have a better line of sight between your program and the impact it has on the community
Some agencies report on workforce hiring goals as part of their labor compliance program. The purpose of these goals is to promote equitable hiring practices, encourage diversity and inclusion, and support the local community. Without an electronic system capturing this data from every contractor on a project, these efforts can be a difficult thing to measure. Luckily, some compliance systems can be leveraged to require this data from contractors during set up.
Demographic worker data – such as gender, ethnicity, and geographic location – can be easily tracked in a report, which is usually already built into the system. So, in a matter of a few clicks, agencies now have access to insights about who is being hired on the project, which goals are being met, and more importantly, which ones to focus their efforts on.
Why does this matter? Because when it comes down to it, hiring goals are meant to help individuals secure jobs (especially for those who need it most). And when these individuals join the workforce, they become valuable contributors to the local economy. The main takeaway? Reporting on these outcomes provide governments with actionable data to make a difference in their communities.
Reason #5: You can better justify future funding
Funding. It’s the lifeblood for government agencies. So, what better way to help ensure continued funding than to show that your labor compliance program is spot on – and more importantly, that you have an electronic system to prove it?
It doesn’t hurt to have a good compliance program when trying to secure construction funding. And typically, if your agency has adopted an electronic solution, it’s probably safe to assume that you, 1) have protocols and processes in place to promote good compliance practices, 2) can easily provide data and reporting to show the impact and results of your program (including what we mention under reason #4), and 3) are successfully doing your part in helping workers receive their proper wages. All of this helps with your cause when it comes time secure future funding.
Alternatively, having an electronic system also helps with mitigating the risk of losing your existing funds. One of the potential penalties that agencies face for non-compliance with Davis-Bacon/prevailing wage requirements is loss of funding. Having an electronic system helps with compliance enforcement and oversight, which ultimately helps reduce the risk of non-compliance.
If you’d like to learn more about LCPtracker’s electronic solution for government agencies, check out https://lcptracker.com/solutions/lcptracker.