July 5, 2023
6 min read

The Davis-Bacon Act (DBA), sometimes referred to as Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA), is a federal labor law that applies to contractors and subcontractors engaged in construction or renovation projects funded by the federal government. Enacted in 1931, the DBA requires these contractors to pay their employees prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits that are determined by the Department of Labor (DOL) for specific labor classifications in a given locality.

For federal contract brokers, who serve as intermediaries between government agencies and contractors, understanding and ensuring DBA compliance is important for several reasons:

  • Legal Requirement: The DBA is a statutory requirement that must be followed by contractors working on covered construction projects. Brokers have a responsibility to ensure that the contractors they work with understand and comply with the DBA to avoid legal consequences and penalties.
  • Contract Eligibility: Many government contracts in the construction sector include DBA compliance as a mandatory requirement for bidding and winning the contract. Brokers need to ensure that the contractors they represent are compliant with the DBA to maintain eligibility for these contracts and maximize business opportunities.
  • Wage Determination: The DBA requires contractors to pay their employees prevailing wage rates based on the labor classifications and geographic areas specified by the DOL. Brokers need to have a clear understanding of these wage determinations to help contractors accurately estimate labor costs and develop competitive pricing for construction projects.
  • Subcontractor Compliance: The DBA compliance extends to subcontractors as well. Prime contractors are responsible for ensuring that their subcontractors adhere to the DBA requirements. Brokers need to ensure that subcontractors working under the prime contractor are also compliant, as non-compliance can have implications for both the subcontractor and the prime contractor.
  • Compliance Assistance: Brokers can provide valuable guidance and support to contractors in understanding and meeting DBA compliance requirements. This includes helping contractors interpret wage determinations, navigate complex regulations, and ensure accurate record-keeping and reporting.
  • Risk Mitigation: Non-compliance with the DBA can lead to audits, investigations, and potential legal consequences for contractors. Brokers who work with non-compliant contractors may also face risks such as contract termination, financial losses, and damage to their own reputation. Ensuring DBA compliance helps mitigate these risks and promotes ethical business practices.

By understanding and promoting DBA compliance, federal contract brokers can help contractors navigate the complexities of government contracting, maintain eligibility for construction projects, accurately estimate costs, mitigate risks, and foster a reputation for working with compliant and reputable contractors. This, in turn, enhances your credibility as a broker, strengthens relationships with government agencies, and contributes to the overall success of construction projects.

What impact does the Davis-Bacon act have on the profitability of a government contract?

The Davis-Bacon Act is a federal law in the United States that requires contractors and subcontractors engaged in federally funded construction projects to pay their laborers and mechanics the locally prevailing wage rates for the corresponding type of work. The act aims to protect workers on government-funded projects from being underpaid and to maintain fair wages in the construction industry.

The impact of the Davis-Bacon Act on the profitability of a government contract can vary depending on several factors:

  1. Labor Costs: The act often leads to higher labor costs for contractors, as they are required to pay the prevailing wage rates, which are typically higher than the minimum wage. This can increase the overall cost of labor on the project, potentially reducing the profit margin.
  • Competition: The act can limit the pool of available contractors willing to bid on government projects. Some contractors may choose not to participate due to the higher labor costs associated with complying with the prevailing wage rates. With fewer competitors, the bidding process may become less competitive, potentially affecting profitability.
  • Compliance and Administrative Burden: Contractors must navigate the complexities of the Davis-Bacon Act to ensure compliance. This can involve maintaining accurate payroll records, monitoring wage rates, and submitting certified payrolls to the contracting agency. These administrative requirements can add additional costs and paperwork, potentially impacting profitability.
  • Impact on Project Duration: The Davis-Bacon Act can also affect project timelines and productivity. If contractors need to adjust their workforce to comply with prevailing wage rates, it may lead to delays in hiring or finding qualified workers, potentially extending the project duration and increasing associated costs.
  • Offset by Increased Funding: It’s important to note that government contracts subject to the Davis-Bacon Act are typically funded by federal agencies. While compliance with the act can increase labor costs, contractors may also benefit from the fact that the projects are often adequately funded, allowing for a higher level of profitability overall.

It’s worth mentioning that the impact of the Davis-Bacon Act on profitability is not uniform across all contracts and contractors. The specific circumstances of each project, prevailing wage rates, labor availability, and the contractor’s ability to efficiently manage compliance can all influence the ultimate effect on profitability.

If you have questions regarding the Davis-Bacon Act, contact our subject matter specialists today at, or Schedule a Meeting here!

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