Municipal and state awarding authorities seek to ensure that construction projects in their jurisdictions are completed on time and within budget. Start to finish, they are charged with getting the best value for taxpayer dollars. They must also consider and comply with state laws governing public construction in planning, bidding and construction phases of their projects.
What We Can Do For You
The FFCM can assist awarding authorities with the following:
- Advising on fair contracting requirements on public projects
- Providing assistance with technical issues in the competitive bidding process
- Providing information and assistance with public construction law compliance
We also advise that you subscribe to our semiannual publication, Public Construction Watch, which provides awarding authorities with updates on new laws and advisories and publishes outcomes of important precedent-setting decisions affecting public construction.
What You Must Do
Awarding authorities should take both preventative and proactive steps to ensure successful project outcomes and taxpayer satisfaction. They include:
1. Reviewing Bids
Awarding authorities should prevent potential prevailing wage violations by conducting hearings on bids that are significantly below the average bid price submitted on a project. Such bids raise a serious question as to the ability of the contractor to:
- Pay the prevailing wage
- Comply with Massachusetts laws
- Successfully complete the project.
Case law permits awarding authorities to make findings of fact; and such determinations shall not be overturned by the courts. Through these preliminary hearings, the contractors must demonstrate to the awarding authorities and its architects how it could complete the project at the bid price and comply with Massachusetts State Laws. Failure to make such a showing would allow the awarding authority to reject the bid. Weeding out irresponsible bids will prevent unnecessary and costly delays.
2. Review of Certified Weekly Payroll
Awarding authorities must receive, review and monitor certified payroll records weekly. Information such as name, address, classification, hours worked, base pay and benefits deductions MUST be included on the weekly certified payroll form, signed under the pains and penalties of perjury. It is the position of the Attorney General’s Office that failure by an awarding authority to ensure compliance with the law frustrates the Legislature’s intent to prevent the non-payment of prevailing wage on public works projects.
Any suspected violations should be reported to the Attorney General’s Fair Labor and Business Practices Division by calling (617) 727-3465.
Prevailing wage sheets must be included in all job specifications in order to avoid any confusion and give notice to all contractors and subcontractors.
3. Prevailing Wage Hearings
M.G.L. c. 149, S 27 authorizes the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, after conducting an investigation and hearing, to order work halted on a public works project if it finds prevailing wage violations. This Office can order the general or subcontractor to pass a bond if it finds that the prevailing wage is not being paid on the job. Work cannot resume until the bond has been posted in the amount of a penal sum as determined by the Attorney General at the hearing.
4. Public Records
The Secretary of State’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General are in agreement that certified weekly payrolls are public records and therefore should be made available to parties upon request. Information such as name, address, classification, hours worked, base pay and regular deductions must be made available to the public. Certain information, such as social security number, date of birth, unusual reason for deduction (i.e. child support), should be redacted prior to making the payroll documents available to the public in order to protect the privacy rights of named individuals.
For more information, see this guide for Awarding Authorities prepared by the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards.