The General Accounting Office (GAO), in response to a congressional request, compared federal and state prevailing wage, environmental protection, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), and highway design laws to determine whether the protections afforded by state laws in these areas are equivalent to the protection afforded by federal laws. The state laws reviewed were those of the five states participating in the Combined Road Plan--a block grant demonstration project designed to test the feasibility of giving states more flexibility to administer highway funds. These states are California, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, and Texas. In brief, GAO found that, while the prevailing wage laws of the five states are generally comparable to the federal Davis-Bacon Act, the states' environmental, minority-contracting, and highway design statutes vary in their degree of comparability to their federal counterparts. According to state and federal highway officials, differences between state and federal laws in some areas are mitigated by regulations, administrative policies, case law, and operating procedures that are comparable to the federal laws. Where states have afforded comparable protections to state laborers, minority contractors, the environment, and highway safety, an implication exists that federal and state governments attach similar values to these concerns. However, other indicators, including courts' interpretations of the laws, administrative guidance, and states' compliance with the statutes, must be considered in determining whether the protections afforded by the federal and state governments are equivalent. Additionally, the presence of state laws or administrative guidance similar to the federal requirements does not in itself guarantee that states would retain or enforce the laws if federal requirements were lifted.

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: 33 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00497343
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO/RCED-90-157
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 30 1990 12:00AM