WASHINGTON, D.C. | September 10, 2013
With our nation facing difficult challenges at home and abroad, it is important we continue the work the American people sent us here to do. That includes pursuing commonsense reforms that will make the federal government more efficient and a better steward of taxpayer dollars. The legislation we are considering today is a small yet important part of that effort.
Approximately one out of every five workers is employed by a federal contractor. Drawing on the strength and expertise of the private-sector workforce to complete federal projects has helped deliver better results at a more competitive price for taxpayers.
A number of laws govern the wages workers on federal projects receive. For example, the Davis-Bacon Act
requires federal contractors to pay workers the “local prevailing wage.” Additionally, the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act
ensures these workers receive one and one half times their basic rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours a week.
Both laws have played a central role in federal contracting for decades; however, both are plagued by inefficiencies. The department is responsible for enforcing these laws, yet the Government Accountability Office has long been a middle-man in an overly bureaucratic claims process.
Here is how the current process works.
The Department of Labor first determines whether workers have failed to receive their proper wages and calculates the amount of pay they are due. Next the department forwards to GAO a report that states the names of underpaid employees and the amount they each are owed. Funds from the relevant contracting agencies are delivered to GAO, which then deposits the money into an account at the Treasury Department. Based upon claims forms submitted by affected workers, GAO transmits payment requests to Treasury, which disburses directly to workers their unpaid wages. It should be noted that GAO has no authority to overturn or even challenge the department’s judgment in this area.
As a result of this lengthy back-and-forth between numerous federal entities, workers can experience delays in receiving their correct wages and taxpayers are forced to support an unnecessarily complex process. I think we can all agree we can do better.
H.R. 2747 is commonsense and bipartisan legislation that would transfer GAO’s administrative duties under these two laws to the proper federal agency – the Department of Labor. GAO has requested this relief and believes it will encourage more efficiency within the federal government. Furthermore, it will free up time and resources at GAO that can be better spent fulfilling its central mission of investigating waste and abuse in the federal government.
By moving wage claims adjustments for federally contracted workers to the Department of Labor, we can ensure workers receive their pay in a timelier manner while providing greater efficiency. Quite simply, Mister/Madam Speaker, this legislation is a win for workers and taxpayers.
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