Overview of the University of Massachusetts Building Authority

This section describes the makeup and responsibilities of the University of Massachusetts Building Authority.

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The University of Massachusetts Building Authority (UMBA) is an independent public body created by Chapter 773 of the Acts of 1960. It was created to provide structures for use in attending, working at, or visiting the University of Massachusetts, which has five campuses: Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, and the Worcester Medical School. The UMBA board of directors consists of 11 members appointed by the Governor.

The University of Massachusetts president’s office is responsible for developing a capital plan that entails prioritizing projects, identifying funding sources, and ensuring that strategic and campus priorities are addressed. UMBA works with the university president’s office and each campus to manage UMBA-financed projects and other capital projects in the capital plan.

UMBA provides a technical review of each project, before it is approved by the university’s board of trustees, to evaluate the project scope for feasibility and the cost estimates for accuracy. A project must go before the trustees for two separate approval votes: a preliminary vote and the full project approval vote. Trustee approval is required to initiate or finance any capital projects requiring university borrowing, as well as any capital projects over $10,000,000 in cost. The president’s approval is required for capital projects between $2,000,000 and $10,000,000 in cost.

UMBA is responsible for the construction of facilities, and it hires architects, engineers, and construction firms to design and build them. UMBA contracts with an owner’s project manager (OPM) to oversee each project from design to completion, including monitoring cost, managing contractors and subcontractors, and managing the project schedule while communicating progress to UMBA. The OPM is also required to maintain and monitor prevailing wage records. Sections 26–27H of Chapter 149 of the Massachusetts General Laws (the Prevailing Wage Law) were created to ensure that all workers (including registered apprentices1) engaged in public works projects, except those who perform strictly supervisory functions, are paid a minimum hourly rate set by the Department of Labor Standards (DLS) for their job classifications. DLS provides prevailing wage rate sheets that list all the various job classifications of the tradespeople2 involved in public works projects and the minimum hourly rate to be paid. Employers such as contractors and subcontractors must submit payroll documents weekly to the OPM containing the name, address, job classification, hours worked, and wages paid for each employee working on the project, which the employer certifies as accurate.

During our audit period, UMBA had 83 projects in various stages of construction, on which it spent a total of approximately $614 million dollars.

1.     Apprentices working on projects are required to register with the Division of Apprentice Standards. Once registered, apprentices may be paid the rate provided on the prevailing wage rate sheets. Apprentices who did not register with the Division of Apprentice Standards must be paid at the journey worker’s rate for their trades.

2.     Tradespeople are workers who require special skill or training.

Date published: May 21, 2020