Awarding Authorities Play Key Role in Prevailing Wage Compliance

The Foundation for Fair Contracting of Massachusetts announces a new Public Construction Watch column designed to recognize Massachusetts municipal and state awarding authorities who demonstrate accountability for compliance with public construction laws.

Awarding authorities must receive, maintain and review certified payroll records to ensure prevailing wage compliance. Section 28 of the same law provides construction workers with “right of action” against a city or town for debt recovery.
Awarding Authorities can also prevent prevailing wage violations by challenging bids that are significantly below the average bid price. An irresponsibly low bid can trigger a preliminary hearing where the contractor must demonstrate how it will complete the project and comply with state laws. Based on findings of fact, an awarding authority may reject a low bid as long as the determination is not made in an arbitrary, capricious or illegal manner. The process could easily prevent delayed or unfinished projects and save hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

FFCM assists awarding authorities to identify and correct violations of the law before involving state enforcement agencies and resources. Our staff targets public projects throughout the Commonwealth, monitors bidding, collects and reviews certified payroll records, mails to workers and tracks cases to resolution. Potential bid irregularities or certain types of wage and certified payroll record violations are reported directly to the responsible town, city or state awarding authority for corrective action. Since 2010, FFCM has transmitted over 200 cases of alleged violations.

The Foundation works closely with responsive authorities to ensure that contractors paid with public tax dollars are accountable for compliance. Awarding authorities have required contractors to pay their workers restitution for missed “step” increases, submit certified payroll records weekly, resubmit non-compliant records with requisite complete and accurate information, or make other adjustments. This kind of enforcement by awarding authorities sends a clear message to all stakeholders that cheating workers, shortchanging taxpayers and undercutting law abiding contractors will not be tolerated.

The Foundation salutes the following Awarding Authorities for their cooperation and commitment to compliance and fair contracting: