Published date: 09/16/2021
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed by the Senate on August 10, 2021 by a wide bipartisan majority, would see billions of dollars invested into public works construction. As part of the wider American Jobs Plan (AJP), its aim is to revitalize American infrastructure, which in many parts of the country has fallen well behind global standards.
Although the bipartisan package falls short of President Biden’s $2 trillion, decade-long, AJP proposal, it would still create thousands of jobs for Americans and advance infrastructural expansion if signed into law by the House. If you’re a contractor or subcontractor working on public works projects, this bill promises growth and an enormous amount of work.
Now is the time to get your contracts and compliance in order.
Where Are the Funds From The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Going?
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill would invest $550 billion over five years in new spending on infrastructure – mainly roads, railways, bridges, energy, water and broadband infrastructure. The intent is to create good jobs, enhance competitiveness, and address decades’ worth of infrastructure backlog.
Here’s where a good portion of the funds would be allocated:
Road and Bridge Repair
$110 billion would be invested in roads and bridges. This amount includes:
- $40 billion for the repair, rehabilitation, and replacement of bridges
- $16 billion for major projects that are too complex for traditional funding channels
- $1 billion to be spent on planning, design, demolition, and reconstruction of infrastructure geared towards reconnecting communities divided by transportation infrastructure (such as the I-81)
Road Safety and Public Transit
- $11 billion for transportation safety programs
- $39 billion to modernize rail and bus fleets and increase accessibility to all users, especially the elderly and people with disabilities
Passenger and Freight Rail
$66 billion would be invested into the maintenance and modernization of existing rail corridors. It also factors in the addition of new, high-potential rail lines.
- $22 billion in grants goes to Amtrak
- $24 billion as federal-state partnership grants would be pumped into the Northeast Corridor modernization
- $12 billion for partnership grants to improve intercity rail service
- $5 billion for safety grants and rail improvement
- $3 billion goes to grade crossing safety improvements
Electrical Vehicle Infrastructure
- $7.5 billion towards building a nationwide network of chargers
- $5 billion to help school districts and communities nationwide buy zero emission and low emission buses and ferries
Airports, Ports, and Waterways
The deal allocates $42 billion to address maintenance backlog, reducing congestion, and installation of low-carbon technologies.
- $25 billion goes to airports
- $17 billion is allotted for ports
Building Climate Resilience and Western Water Infrastructure
The deal allocates $50 billion to make infrastructure more resilient against climate-related disasters and cyber-attacks. The funds will go towards weatherproofing and protecting infrastructure and communities from drought and floods.
An unprecedented allocation of $55 billion will go towards replacing all lead pipes and service lines nationwide. Redressing the environmental build-up of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) also falls under this clean drinking water docket.
$65 billion would be invested in deploying broadband infrastructure with emphasis in rural and low-income areas. It will also require funding recipients to offer low-cost connectivity plans.
Clean Power Infrastructure
A $73 billion investment would go to clean energy transmission. The infrastructure upgrade includes building new, resilient lines to facilitate renewable energy transmission. Funds will also create a new Grid Deployment Authority to research next-generation clean energy sources.
To help redress the environmental and community impact of idle and abandoned industries and energy sites, the bill would invest $21 billion in environmental remediation measures. Some measures include reclaiming mine land and rehabilitating superfund sites.
What Does All of this Mean for Public Works Projects?
The bipartisan infrastructure deal would pump $100 billion annually into various public works projects nationwide over the next five years. This level of funding is unparalleled for many types of infrastructure, and it spells good news for contractors and subcontractors who handle publicly funded projects.
Considering the uncertainty of the post-pandemic world, the increased volume of work promises a financial reprieve. With that said, federal funds that are used on construction projects may also trigger the Davis-Bacon Act. And as most experienced contractors know, that means there will also be plenty of compliance requirements to be met.
What is the Davis-Bacon Act?
The Davis-Bacon Act (DBA) and Davis-Bacon Related Acts (DBRA) require contractors and subcontractors on federally funded (or assisted) contracts of $2,000 or more to pay the locally prevailing wages and fringe benefits. They must also submit certified payroll reports (CPRs) to the requesting body (typically the government agency awarding the contract).
In addition, contractors must follow federal apprenticeship standards and retain all compliance documentation for up to three years after the completion of a project. Records can be requested at any time during an audit or investigation.
Repercussions for Noncompliance
Failure to comply with the certified payroll requirements and record keeping can lead to a number of possible scenarios including: withheld payment, negative audits, fines and penalties, early contract termination, and/or possible debarment from public works projects for up to three years. And in some egregious cases, it can even lead to prosecution. Noncompliance includes incomplete or inaccurate reports as well as failing to submit CPRs and other requested documentation entirely.
Managing this compliance for your entire project can be a tall order, especially for agencies and prime contractors. Remember: primes also tend to enforce compliance across the board because they are potentially on the hook for violations that any subcontractor on their project makes and fails to rectify.
The good news is that there are electronic solutions available today to help manage compliance for these projects. The best cloud-based applications can efficiently keep track of all reporting requirements and help ensure every contractor on the job remains compliant by automatically validating data entered on CPRs prior to submitting.
And with the tremendous promise of work that will follow the infrastructure deal, the case for digitizing prevailing wage compliance is only strengthened. To truly capitalize on the thousands of contracts that will roll out in coming years, contractors and agencies alike need to streamline their efforts and increase efficiency.
To learn more about cloud-based compliance reporting solutions, check out https://lcptracker.com/solutions/lcptracker/.