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Audit: Most state construction projects in Massachusetts fell short of workforce goals

A construction site.
Mufid Majnun
Creative Commons
A construction site.

After reviewing more than 120 construction contracts the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance administered in 2019 and 2020, Auditor Suzanne Bump's office determined that 95% of projects did not meet state workforce participation goal for women and that about 65% did not meet the minority workforce participation goal.

State guidelines say construction contracts should call for 6.9% of the construction hours to be performed by female workers and for 15.3% of the hours of construction work to be performed by minority workers.

But Bump's office said that 120 of the 127 construction contracts active at DCAMM during her office's two-year audit period did not meet the women's workforce participation goal, including 78 projects that reported zero hours worked by women.

Eighty-one of the 127 contracts did not meet the minority workforce participation goal and 36 of those projects did not have any hours worked by minorities, Bump's office said in an audit that also touched upon other DCAMM shortcomings.

"Both state law and state contracts impose on contractors obligations to create opportunities for women and non-white persons to move into these well-paid jobs in the design and construction of public infrastructure. DCAMM has not been diligent in its monitoring and enforcement of these requirements," Bump said in a statement. "All state agencies must ensure that the jobs we create through state spending afford opportunities for all demographics, not just those groups who have traditionally held the positions. I am glad to see that DCAMM is implementing our recommendations in this area; it is important that they stay vigilant and proactive on these issues moving forward."

Bump said that DCAMM "had not established policies and procedures to effectively monitor the extent to which each contractor achieved the workforce participation goals for women and minorities in order to establish measures to enforce compliance with these goals."

In its response to Bump's findings, DCAMM said that monitoring progress against workforce participation goals "has historically taken place via a comprehensive tailored approach which involves the DCAMM Compliance Officer at every stage, from contract inception to close-out" in a process that "allows the Compliance Officer to best review the project process, understand the (often evolving) timing of various categories of work and, because each project is unique, to best tailor actions to achieve and increase both minority and women business and workforce participation."

But the agency also said that it was responding to Bump's findings "supplementing its comprehensive tailored approach with a structure for additional supervisor review and automatic implementation of its contract option to require quarterly projected workforce tables." DCAMM has also updated its contractor evaluation form to explicitly include the question, "Did the Contractor meet applicable workforce goals, benchmarks or other requirements?"