Department of Labor

Administration of the Public Work Enforcement Fund

Contractors on public construction projects are required by law to provide their employees with wages and fringe benefits commensurate with those received by similarly employed workers in the locality of the project. This requirement is enforced by the Department of Labor, which establishes prevailing wage rates and investigates complaints. The Departmentís enforcement activities are funded in part by an assessment that is levied on the State agencies and public authorities entering into public work contracts. The assessments are to be deposited into the Public Work Enforcement Fund, which is administered by the Department.

We examined the Departmentís administration of the Fund and identified significant weaknesses. In particular, the Department has not established a reliable process for identifying all the public works contracts that should be assessed. As a result, assessments are not always levied on qualifying contracts, especially when the contracts are awarded by public authorities. We also found that the Department is not always effective in collecting amounts that have been assessed. We recommended that the Department improve its assessment and collection practices, and develop regulations to clarify the responsibilities of the State agencies and public authorities that are subject to assessments. We also recommended that the Department make better use of the amounts that were collected. We noted that the Fund was created in 1995 to help the Department reduce the large backlog of open complaint investigations. However, the backlog had grown significantly worse since 1995, in part because the Department had not hired as many additional public work investigators as they could have with the available funds.

For a complete copy of Report 2004-S-22 click here.
For a copy of the 90-day response click here.
For a copy of the associated follow-up report click here.