Horizon Newsletter • October 23, 2023
Navigating Davis-Bacon Act Changes with XBE

Disclaimer: Contractors should consult with their legal counsel regarding the implications of Davis-Bacon to their business. While XBE needs to understand the changes to build great solutions, we're just a software company! This newsletter is not legal advice.

This is also available as a video newsletter on YouTube.

Executive Summary

The summer 2023 revisions to the Davis-Bacon Act introduced substantial changes that significantly impact contractors and subcontractors involved in federal contract work. The alterations include an effective expansion of the Act's coverage to more labor classifications including truck drivers, increased responsibility for subcontractor compliance, alterations to the method of calculating prevailing wages, and more severe consequences for non-compliance. These changes will affect project estimating, labor management, supply management, and compliance workflows. Consequently, strategic navigation through these changes will determine "winners" and "losers".

Fortunately, XBE is here to help. We've responded to these changes by notably enhancing our existing platform to provide a seamless, comprehensive compliance solution. Offering precise location and hour tracking, clear communication of prevailing wages, effective handling of wage differences, compliance payment requirements, and ease of integration, XBE's solution to the Davis-Bacon Act changes will simplify your route to effective compliance.

Our easy-to-implement features will enable accurate wage compliance, save on administrative costs, ripple down to healthier trucking supply chains, and ultimately, position your business competitively in the evolving landscape of federal contract work. Despite the looming uncertainties, the future within the federal contract space is navigable, especially with XBE to help you through the trickiest administrative challenges.

Situation Overview

The Davis-Bacon Act, a federal law governing labor wages on public works projects, underwent a comprehensive overhaul in the summer of 2023. This shift substantially changes wage rules for contractors and subcontractors, marking the biggest modification to the Act in 40 years. These rules apply to federally funded projects, and to many state projects as well.

One critical stakeholder group — truck drivers — is front-and-center in these adjustments. The Act's expansion now covers more truck drivers, including those hired by third-party trucking companies, under its coverage. This change considerably shifts contractors' responsibility around trucking labor costs and administrative processes.

On top of broadening the scope to include more categories of workers, it creates clear responsibility for the compliance of subcontractors and truckers, and dramatically increases potential liability for compliance violations.

The revisions are effective for contracts awarded on or after October 23, 2023. This imminent deadline places pressure on contractors and subcontractors to prepare for and align with the new requirements as they take effect.

Strategic Analysis

These sweeping changes to the Davis-Bacon Act create meaningful cost, risk, and competitiveness consequences. How contractors adapt to these changes will determine whether they emerge as "winners" or "losers".

Winners will be those contractors that act decisively. Those with well-organized logistics administration and robust trucking supply management capabilities stand to benefit. By keeping pace with the rule change, they can streamline compliance and limit disruptions to their operations and finances.

On the other side, those who neglect the responsibilities brought on by these modifications or who adopt a wait-and-see approach with truckers might be the losers. Ignoring the mandate or delaying response could expose them to not only administrative hassles but also financial repercussions and reputational damages.

Non-compliance with the Davis-Bacon Act changes can potentially lead to debarment, prohibiting contractors from participating in future government contracts and impacting a wide array of entities related to the contractor, such as controlling shareholders, joint venture partners, and other overseeing contractors. Moreover, it's important to note, the debarment period is now a mandatory three years with no option for early removal, posing a significant risk to future business opportunities.

From the perspective of trucking companies, these changes are a mixed bag. While uncertainty and fear about expanding administrative burdens are genuine concerns, the situation also offers opportunities. Trucking companies might reconsider taking on Davis-Bacon jobs unless the administrative challenges are addressed effectively. However, the prospect of higher wages for drivers could help reduce staff turnover and boost performance.

For the contractor, depending on the size of the prevailing wage differential, the direct cost impact of this change can range widely. In a typical city in the midwest, the minimum increase will be roughly equivalent to 2% of trucking spend or 0.25% of revenue if administered excellently, and up to a maximum of 8% of trucking spend or 1% of revenue if truckers are paid the prevailing wage for all hours on Davis-Bacon jobs. In addition, there will be increased administrative costs to manage.

Yet, the net effect of these changes does not have to be negative. Cost-effective compliance is a new dimension on which contractors will compete. The best contractors will experience a relative cost improvement vs. competitors that do not take the situation seriously. To realize that advantage, the first step is understanding the tactical problem that needs to be solved.

Tactical Requirements

Adapting to the changes in the Davis-Bacon Act requires a handful of important tactical changes.

One of the key requirements involves tracking job site locations. Given the Act's expanded coverage, contractors need to accurately keep tabs on where job sites are from the legislation's perspective. The task becomes notably more complicated considering that some off-site locations, material supply sites, and transportation routes are now included.

Equally important is the tracking of job site hours. Contractors must monitor who is on the job site and when. This need is particularly vital for managing truck drivers, who typically spend a significant but varying portion of their time on job sites.

Another significant requirement centers on communication. Contractors must relay the prevailing wage to subcontractors, including trucking companies. With the prevailing wage calculation changes, maintaining transparent communication becomes crucial to ensuring correct payments.

Understanding and handling wage differences also entails precise application of premium rates to job site hours. To minimize costs where there is a differential, contractors need to calculate a pass-through rate for job site hours based on the total hours worked per shift and the difference between the project's prevailing wage and the standard wage paid to the driver by the trucker. Without managing this strategically, truckers might negotiate higher total rates to cover the prevailing wage for all hours worked plus the administrative burden.

To maximize trucker compliance, contractors might want to hold off on approving time cards for payment until the trucking company verifies that they will pay the prevailing wage for the job site work hours for that specific shift.

Finally, contractors may need to collect certified payroll reports from all truckers and subcontractors to ensure full and verifiable compliance with the new requirements.

XBE Solution

Unlike manual clerical processes or over-simplified alternatives that are either error-prone or potentially non-compliant, XBE offers a streamlined, comprehensive, and robust solution that ensures accurate and efficient compliance with the Davis-Bacon Act changes.

Keep in mind that the effectiveness of these features highly depends on how you incorporate them into your overall job performance and compliance management processes.

Our Davis-Bacon solution is integrated into our existing platform, which already provides a comprehensive solution for managing all aspects of job details, trucking rates, and trucking time cards. Over the past year, XBE has been used to manage time cards related to over 500,000 trucking shifts. Because of this deep experience, the XBE platform is well suited to handle the new requirements.

Regarding the specifics, we recognize the importance of precise location information under the new Act. Consequently, our platform allows a job production plan to define a job site as multiple and different locations that can vary over time.

Additionally, our system natively supports logging job site hours for each driver and laborer. This function is designed around real-time GPS data from the XBE app and/or integrated telematics, with the additional provision for manual adjustment as needed.

Communicating the prevailing wage to truckers will increase the accuracy of their certified payroll. XBE's solution includes the specification of prevailing wage details for each project's labor classification, which is then communicated on a shift-by-shift basis to truckers as appropriate.

Furthermore, we have developed a feature that can require time card payroll certification. Contractors could hold payment on any time card until trucking companies have asserted they will pay the prevailing wage.

To ensure ultimate compliance, XBE's enhanced system will also accommodate the collection of certified payroll reports from truckers and subcontractors.

Recognizing individualized needs, XBE offers flexible rates for trucking that can be calculated and applied based on a variety of measures including job site hours. This versatility allows contractors to manage Davis-Bacon job rates automatically, accurately, and transparently.

To further improve administrative efficiency, XBE can integrate self-billed trucking invoices into ERPs via custom formats, thus eliminating manual bookkeeping.

Getting this all off the ground quickly is key. Following XBE's comprehensive integration process, contractors should be able implement all the essential elements outlined within a month with adequate leadership and change management. This fast roll-out doesn't negate thoroughness; we follow a standardized approach that has proven successful even for complex organizations. Once the decision is made and communicated internally, the implementation process is already in its final stretch.

From the first signs of the changes to the Davis-Bacon Act, XBE committed itself to developing a comprehensive, user-friendly, and rigorous solution to meet the new requirements. We stand by that commitment, and we're here to ensure that all our current and future customers successfully navigate this shifting landscape. With XBE, contractors can turn these changes into opportunities - lessening risk, cutting administrative burden, saving costs, and staying compliant with the expanded Davis-Bacon requirements.

Next Steps

As you can see, adapting to the changes in the Davis-Bacon Act is both vital and attainable. Here's what you can do next to ensure you're well prepared:

  1. Check out the new XBE product release notes: They provide a thorough explanation of the new features and how to implement them to comply with and benefit from Davis-Bacon changes.

  2. Join us on XBE's Compass Calls: Our regular Compass Calls offer an opportunity to discuss topics in detail. In the upcoming calls, we'll dedicate some time to discuss these Davis-Bacon changes, demonstrate how the new features work, and answer any questions you might have.

  3. Reach out to our Customer Outcomes Team: If you have any questions or need assistance aligning your operations with the Davis-Bacon revisions, our XBE Customer Outcomes team is ready to assist. We're committed to ensuring a smooth, quick, and efficient transition for you. If you're not yet an XBE customer, schedule an intro call to learn more.

  4. Stay on top of Davis-Bacon changes: As these changes are just now taking effect, it's important to keep up with modifications, clarifications, and implications as they become more clear. Leverage your industry associations and other similar groups for varied perspectives and analysis, and expect more updates from XBE.

Remember, at XBE we're here not just to help you adapt to these changes but to leverage them as opportunities. These new features reinforce our commitment to ensuring that your operations stay compliant and cost-effective, so you can focus on what you do best - delivering great projects. Let's navigate these changes together, confidently and successfully.