What Does the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Mean to You?

By Deborah Wilder

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will pump billions of dollars into public construction within the next year. What does the ARRA mean for your business? How do you get a piece of the pie and what special requirements may be required by the federal government if ARRA Stimulus Money is used on the project?

First, the ARRA money is to be used for "shovel ready" projects. These are projects that already have been designed, have had plans and specifications approved and are ready to start. All that would need to be done is for the public agency to advertise the project for bid. There are several sites on the internet that list "shovel ready "projects. These projects have not yet been granted funds by the federal government, but they are eligible for funds. One such website is www.stimuluswatch.org. Projects are listed by state and then city or other locations within the State. A good marketing tip would be to directly contact these cities, counties or agencies to determine if and when these projects will be bidding.

Remember the stimulus package is using federal funds so Davis-Bacon prevailing wage rates will apply. If you are in a State that has separate prevailing wage rates like California, you will need to check and see what wage rates will apply. In most cases, it is the higher of the two rates that apply. But, what that might mean is that one wage classification in the state prevailing wage rate may be higher, but in a different wage classification the federal Davis-Bacon rate might be higher. Before you bid the project, make sure you know what prevailing wage rates apply. Some states also require special training contributions or apprenticeship requirements. So, do not get caught unawares.

Finally the ARRA brings with it new reporting requirements relating to your workforce. You must track all new jobs created as a result of the stimulus money for this project as well as jobs that were retained as a direct result of the stimulus project. Tracking hours and wages paid most likely will be included as part of this reporting procedure. The Federal government is still working on finalizing these forms.

Also be aware that if federal funds are used, you may also have a separate obligation for additional equal employment opportunity postings at your workplace (projects over $10,000) and in other cases be required to perform a workforce analysis and a full blown affirmative action plan as a federal contractor. So, while the ARRA Stimulus package may create some additional construction work for your company, realize that additional obligations in wages and reporting may be required.

Deborah Wilder is the immediate past president of Women Construction Owners and Executives, USA and the president of Contractor Compliance and Monitoring Inc. dwilder@ccmi-tpa.com