- Office of the State Auditor
Media Contact for Audit Calls on UMass Building Authority to Ensure Workers Receive Prevailing Wage
Boston — In an audit released today, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump found the University of Massachusetts Building Authority (UMBA) could not verify that employees of contractors who worked on public projects were paid the appropriate prevailing wage. The audit, which examined the period of July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018, also looked at UMBA’s processes for reviewing and approving capital projects, monitoring payments and change orders, and completion and closeout of contracts and found no deficiencies in these areas.
Nearly half of the employee payroll records reviewed by Bump’s office (1,608 out of 3,344) had job classifications for contractor employees that did not match the Division of Labor Standards’ (DLS) prevailing wage rate sheets, making it impossible to determine whether these employees were paid the appropriate prevailing wage. Of the remaining employees reviewed by Bump’s office, approximately 5 percent (90 employees) were paid less than the required prevailing wage.
“The UMass Building Authority is responsible for ensuring employees working on its public projects are paid fairly and accurately. While many of the areas we examined showed no deficiencies, it’s clear the authority must establish better employee payroll monitoring processes. Failure to do so will mean some workers could be short-changed when working on public projects,” Bump said of the audit.
The Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Law for public works projects requires contractors to pay the prevailing wage. Prevailing wages are the minimum hourly rates set by DLS for job classifications. UMBA contracts with owner’s project managers (OPMs) to maintain and monitor records of compliance with the Prevailing Wage Law.
The audit calls on UMBA to establish a payroll policy that includes a documented process for its OPMs to follow to effectively detect, investigate, and (if necessary) report any contractors who may not be complying with the state’s prevailing wage law. The audit recommends UMBA establish monitoring controls to ensure that its OPMs consistently adhere to the established process.
UMBA is an independent public body responsible for overseeing public works construction projects on the University of Massachusetts’ five campuses (Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, and the Worcester Medical School). The UMBA board of directors consists of 11 members appointed by the Governor. During the audit period, UMBA had 83 projects in various stages of construction, on which it spent approximately $614 million.