- Future of Surveying
In March, 2013, with no public notice, request for public comment, small business or economic analysis, or engagement with the private sector, the Department of Labor expanded the Davis Bacon Act.
The Department reversed more than 50 years of policy and practice and applied Davis-Bacon to surveying technicians. The 50+ year policy was articulated by then-Secretary Arthur Goldberg during the Kennedy Administration, which the current Labor Department has overturned. In addition to issuing AAM212, the Department of Labor sent a letter to the International Union of Operating Engineers further explaining its new policy.
Here is a summary of the issue and background.
Congress held a hearing on the issue on June 18, 2013.
National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) Executive Director Curtis W. Sumner, LS, testified in opposition to the ruling. Here is Sumner's testimony.
NSPS has also asked the Labor Department to reverse its position. MAPPS supported the NSPS position in a letter entered into the House subcommittee hearing record, as was a letter by more than a dozen organizations and a letter by five design and construction organizations. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), chairman of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee, criticized the Labor Department’s actions.
DoL has not met the deadline for documents in response to the Kline-Graves-Walberg letter. DoL has also failed to comply with the statutory deadline under the Freedom of Information Act in response to a FOIA request it got from Professional Surveyor Magazine for documents related to the Davis Bacon decision.
NSPS sent an August 20, 2013 letter to DoL in response to an August 16, 2013 meeting.
The Labor Department still has not explained how it has complied with the Administrative Procedures Act, Paperwork Reduction Act, or Regulatory Flexibility Act.
Administrators of two key offices within the White House, were asked to investigate the process used by the Department of Labor to classify members of survey crews as “mechanics and laborers” under the Davis-Bacon Act. NSPS asked the the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to review are the Administrative Procedures Act, Regulatory Flexibility Act, Paperwork Reduction Act, and Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act.
On October 31, 2013, U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), sent a letter to the Secretary of Labor requesting documents related to DoL's new policy on Davis-Bacon and survey crews, and expressing concern for the new policy.
The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor finally responded to NSPS in early December, further clarifying its new policy and narrowing the application of the Davis Bacon Act to survey crews.
AAF President Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Sen. Barrasso and Curtis Sumner
NSPS presentation before Sen. Barrasso and AAF President Douglas Holtz-Eakin continues to reap dividends for additional exposure. Click Here
The chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Labor has asked for the release of information regarding the Department’s controversial ruling that survey crews are “laborers and mechanics’ under the federal prevailing wage law. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), an Appropriations Committee “cardinal” or subcommittee chairman, wrote Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez on January 10, 2013 pointing out that numerous attempts to provide transparency on the department’s decision have been unheeded.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently adopted a policy statement that also opposes the Labor Department position.
NSPS Praises Members of Congress Call for Labor Department to Revoke Davis-Bacon Policy News Flash (July 15, 2014)
The U.S. Department of Labor has turned down a request from three committee and subcommittee chairmen of the U.S. House of Representatives to reverse a March 2013 policy that expanded application of the Davis-Bacon Act, classifying members of survey crews as “laborers and mechanics”. NSPS Executive Director Curtis Sumner, government affairs consultant John Palatiello and lobbyist John “JB” Byrd met with Labor Department officials on September 30 to seek a revision and narrowing of the new policy. (September 26, 2014)
NSPS AAM 212 proposal to Mr. Michael Lazzeri, Assistant Administrator for Government Contracts (December 10, 2014)
Response of Mr. Michael Lazzeri, US Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division (December 2, 2015)