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GAO Faults Depression-Era Davis-Bacon Act’s Costs, Complexity for Delay in Stimulus Program

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has concluded that concern among states about prevailing wage requirements has delayed implementation of a $5 billion weatherization program enacted through Democrats’ economic stimulus package.

According to the GAO report, issued last week, “many of the states we reviewed reported that Davis-Bacon Act requirements—which have been applied to DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program for the first time under the Recovery Act—are a reason they have not yet started weatherizing homes. Specifically, state weatherization officials expressed concerns about wage rates and administrative requirements under the Recovery Act’s Davis-Bacon provision.”

“Despite mounting evidence of the Davis-Bacon Act’s flaws, Democrats continue expanding its reach through new and expanded federal programs,” said Rep. John Kline (R-MN), the top Republican on the Education and Labor Committee. “This Depression-era law drives up costs and adds layers of red tape. Now, an independent analysis tells us this law has resulted in homes still waiting to be weatherized and workers still waiting for a job.”

In August, Kline requested a GAO review of the Department of Labor’s implementation of the Davis-Bacon Act, specifically examining whether persistent problems with wage data collection and accuracy had been resolved in light of Democrats’ efforts to expand Davis-Bacon application to numerous federal programs and initiatives.

“As Congress continues to broaden prevailing wage requirements to programs that are far beyond the original scope of the Davis-Bacon Act, such as the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the ongoing problems with faulty wage data are compounded,” Kline wrote. “Further, the administrative burdens of the Act are being required of a whole new segment of the economy.”

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