Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on April 27, 2022
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 22, 2022


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) opposes any effort by the U.S. Labor Department to consider an expansive definition of the terms “laborers or mechanics” to include professional surveying crews within the coverage of the prevailing wage determinations of the Davis-Bacon Act. ASCE believes that surveying crews are not “laborers or mechanics” within the meaning of the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 (40 U.S.C. § 276a) in that their work is not “manual or physical in nature”. 


The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Labor Department announced a policy in March 2013 that would avoid “an unduly narrow interpretation of the types of duties” qualifying as physical or manual labor by surveying crews, thereby rendering these crews subject to the requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act. This contradicts a 1962 letter in which the Department of Labor concluded that where the work of an individual working in a survey crew is considered professional or sub-professional, the individual is not a laborer or mechanic within the meaning of the Davis-Bacon Act. 


Professional surveyors and all persons trained, licensed, or interested in the profession of surveying and mapping and who have attained the professional qualifications are professional employees who are qualified to practice the profession of surveying by the various states. Professional surveyors and their crews are expected to place service before profit, honor and standing of the profession before personal advantage, and the public welfare above all other considerations. Professional survey crews are bound by the canons of the surveying profession to develop and communicate their work product and analyses without bias or personal interest.

ASCE Policy Statement 542
First Approved 2013