The Problem is: “I Don’t Know what I Don’t Know”
This is the comment I get most often from Public Agencies. The Agency personnel know something about prevailing wage requirements, but are oftentimes not knowledgeable on the details, rules, regulations or exceptions that play into prevailing wage compliance. Some agencies are charged by the State or their governing Board to create and implement a Labor Compliance Program, but are lost as to the intricacies or protocols that need to be put into place.
In California, CCMI routinely comments on regulations and rulemakings. CCMI comments on changes to regulations, forms and protocols. It was CCMI’s input which simplified the PWC-100 form into a one page document instead of several documents. Our comments are considered and valued by the State because of our decades of experience in the field.
When Montgomery County Maryland’s governing Board implemented its own Labor Compliance Program in 2009, it was CCMI who suggested protocols and forms and options for the implementation of that program, including contractor report documentation and contractor appeal rights.
This is the first of two articles on some of the best practices a Public Agency can implement to have a streamline and organized Labor Compliance Program (LCP).
Find Your Expert. First, find yourself a knowledgeable person/company to assist you with this process. Paying for expert advice is far better than muddling through and finding out the program is noncompliant or incomplete. Having a knowledgeable resource will also make information exchange faster than you having to research every issue.
Assemble your team. Figure out what different team members you need for the various aspects of the program. Will there be someone in charge of contracts and a different person in charge of payroll collection and review? Will a different person or department be involved if funds have to be withheld from a project? If the contractor decides to appeal a ruling the agency makes, which person/department will handle that?
Research and Garner Your Resources. There are tools in the field that can help you and make your labor compliance program streamline and more efficient. My favorite tool is LCPtracker. This is an electronic web based system which securely collects certified payrolls (CPR) and other labor compliance documentation needed for a project. I cannot tell you the hours that CCMI saves by having all of the payrolls and documentation available in one place and in the same format.. The amount of time saved from chasing hard copy documentation is invaluable. And, LCPtracker has other options including: local hire reports, daily reports and more. Use this technology to help you be the most efficient you can be. The cost of LCPtracker is offset by the time staff saves from having to chase hard copy payrolls and documentation.
Bids and Contracts. Find out if any of the funding sources of the project trigger any special contract prevailing wage terms or provisions in the bid solicitation. If there are federal funds in the project, specific contract language and the federal wage determination must be included. If your State or local agency mandates prevailing wage, there is usually mandatory bid or contract language required. Be sure to include the obligation of contractors to submit payroll through LCPtracker or other electronic payroll system the Agency decides to use. Also be sure to include a provision that progress payment and/or final payment can be withheld if the labor compliance documents are not timely submitted or are not complete and correct.
Post Bid, Pre- Award Process. First, you need to determine if the contractors who bid this project and any listed subcontractors meet all the pre-award requirements. And, there are nearly always pre-award requirements. Certainly, contractors cannot be debarred from performing prevailing wage work. The federal government has a debarment list- referred to as the “excluded parties” list. The list cross references company names with principal owner of the company. Many states also have a debarment list. Some states have contractor registration requirements for public works projects. Many states have contractor licensing requirements which must be met before contract award. Make sure all the post bid/ pre-award requirements are met.
Preconstruction Conference. Reviewing the labor compliance requirements at a preconstruction conference is always a good idea. What is probably a better idea is to have a separate labor compliance meeting for the project. This is because it is not the workers on the jobsite or their supervisor who is submitting the CPR and labor compliance documents. A meeting or better yet, a mandatory zoom meeting to review these obligations with convey the information to the right party and make sure that all the contractors on the project understand what the expectation will be.
Stay Tuned- Part 2 will be in the next newsletter edition.