Why do Governments have a wonderful capacity of taking something completely good and turning it into a nightmare? Does the very definition of democracy mean “you cannot get anything done quickly when dealing with the Government?”
The DOL launched its new Prevailing Wage System on January 01, 2010. Previous to that the State Workforce Agencies (SWA) determined the Prevailing Wage for their state. A Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) is required to determine what the wage rate should be for a job. Previously the SWAs were widely different and caused a lot of problems. So DOL wanted to centralize the process. Commendable indeed, but they introduced this whole thing with no alpha or beta testing whatsoever.
The DOL created a form, which has to be filled in by hand or typing and then snail mailed to the DOL. DOL then types it into their system. A form that we could submit electronically would have been so much easier and traceable, (like PERM), but DOL wont have that. We send ours by certified mail, and then we don’t hear from one or two of them at all. They get lost in the mail. We have certified receipts to prove they reached DOL’s doors, but no way to follow up.
The officers who determines the are untrained. They sometimes ask stupid questions. Some get returned if we use the major as “general” even if this is for a third preference skilled worker job. The officers do NOT have basic training. I can understand some confusion initially, but we have crossed the six month mark. And the determinations vary so widely from one adjudicator to the other, that they outdo the variance between the different SWAs. So much for a centralized system.
The PWD takes forever to get done and come back, and then it is sometimes valid for barely two months. After that the employer has to advertise for the job, wait a month and then file. And the Prevailing Wage has to be valid at the time of filing. Since advertisements are valid for 6 months only, and there is no knowing when we will get the prevailing wage from DOL, it is not advisable for employers to start advertising without the prevailing wage determination.
There are only so many combination that the PWD form can have. The simple solution would be to mechanize the whole system and have a computer determine the prevailing wage. It would make far less mistakes than humans and would be a lot cheaper. But then, that is not how the system works.