A U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision March 31 limiting the scope of the Davis-Bacon Act. In granting summary judgment to the District of Columbia and private developer CCDC Office LLC, Judge Amy Berman Jackson rejected the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) unprecedented ruling that the Davis-Bacon Act can be expanded to include privately funded projects.

Judge Jackson, who was appointed to the bench by President Obama, rebuffed the DOL’s argument that CityCenterDC—a privately funded, occupied and maintained mix-use project consisting of condominiums, apartments, offices and retail stores located on a plot of land owned by the District of Columbia—constituted a “public work” within the meaning of the Davis-Bacon Act. The court specifically disagreed with the DOL’s claim that Davis-Bacon should apply merely because of the district’s role in planning and oversight of the project or because of the project’s incidental benefits to the public.

The ruling is expected to save the district and the private developers an estimated $20 million in prevailing wage costs. It also reinforces the precedent that privately funded projects, including those developed on land owned by municipalities, are not subject to Davis-Bacon wages. 

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) filed an amicus brief in the case in support of this outcome. ABC General Counsel Maury Baskin represented the plaintiff developer in the case.