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GAO Issues Report on SCA Enforcement Part I

November 24, 2020

The Government Accountability Office released Federal Contracting: Actions Needed to Improve Department of Labor’s Enforcement of Service Worker Wage Protections (GAO-21-11). This article is Part I, and it covers the background and summarizes enforcement trends. Part II will provide more details on enforcement results such as type of violation, work performed, and agencies involved.

The GAO explained that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) conducted more than 5,000 Service Contract Act investigations between 2014 and 2019. These investigations found violations 68 percent of the time, which resulted in $244 million of back wage payments, and 60 debarments.

The purpose of GAO’s report was to look at DOL data about SCA enforcement cases, what challenges DOL faces in enforcing the SCA, and contracting agency implementation of the SCA.

DOL can initiate SCA enforcement for various reasons, including employee, agency, union, or other interested party complaints and directed investigations created by DOL. About 60 percent of cases conducted during the period studied were due to a complaint, and the rest were DOL directed. However, the number of investigations resulting from complaints remained steady during the study period; however, the number of agency-directed investigations increased by 18 percent.

Investigations are carried out across five regions by about 760 investigators. The GAO found that SCA investigations comprise about three percent of DOL’s Wage and Hour Division workload. Cases are unevenly divided among the five regions; about one-third were conducted in the Northeast region, and one-fifth were conducted in the Southwest region.

Part II will provide more information on types of violation, work performed, and agencies involved.