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Many contractors have experienced problems with MnDOT’s requirement that they submit certified payrolls through an online system. Here’s what software providers and MnDOT are doing to improve the system.

Construction Contractors Working Through Challenges of MnDOT Certified Payroll Submission

  • 8/7/2014

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) requires contractors to submit certified payrolls as evidence of compliance with specified prevailing wage determinations through the Civil Rights and Labor (CRL) system. In February 2014, we encouraged contractors to seek an automated solution to uploading the required information.

In recent conversations with contractors and software providers, we found that the level of automation (or lack thereof) varied depending on the accounting software provider and the perceived additional effort of entering the information manually.

“The situation touches large and small contractors, their accounting software vendors, and MnDOT, too,” says Bob Sniegowski, a construction principal with CliftonLarsonAllen. “Everyone is trying to find the right fix that is appropriate to their company, is cost effective, and gets the payroll information to MnDOT in the format required.”

Contractor challenges persist

Many contractors continue to print their certified payrolls and manually re-enter the data into the CRL system. For contractors with a relatively small volume of work that requires submission of certified payrolls, manual entry may be the most cost-effective solution. Larger companies may dedicate several people to this task. However, some companies reported difficulties with connectivity and system freezes during their manual submissions.

Responses from software providers

A few accounting software providers have offered a utility or automated process to convert the payroll data into the XML format and mapped it to the MnDOT database requirements. Other software providers are a few months away from releasing an update that will provide automated data conversion.

“We suspect that software providers to don’t see this as “their” problem, particularly when their software provides a utility to export files to Excel,” says Sniegowski.

This approach overlooks the fact that each individual contractor must write an identical routine to convert and map the Excel fields to the XML format required by CRL. Whether the accounting software provider has agreed to give the utility or the contractor is working on the issue independently, conversion difficulties continue.

MnDOT working on its side of the equation

MnDOT has experienced its share of challenges in creating a functional, stable, user friendly site. It’s vendor has resolved the Internet Explorer issue that was causing problems with converting the Excel spreadsheet to XML. Microsoft has acknowledged that the Internet Explorer release they pushed out on July 9, 2014, has a problem which has affected many online products across the country; including MnDOT’s online convertor.

MnDOT’s vendor developed a step-by-step process to assist with the conversion.

How we can help

  • CLA can be your advocate with the software providers. Our professionals can leverage our working relationships with most major software providers and our significant construction client base to help identify other users, work with vendors to define your needs, and seek a cost-effective solution.
  • Depending on your particular situation and the number of MnDOT projects you have under contract, the data entry requirements could put significant stress on your back office. Our outsourcing team can provide temporary staffing to relieve the workload during a transition and avoid delays in payroll submission.
  • Submitting payroll data must be done in a secure way that minimizes the risk of access to your systems. Our information security professionals can assess and test the security of your current systems as well as the upgrades required for MnDOT work.

Any time you alter systems or processes, it is an opportunity to examine industry best practices. CLA can advise you on internal controls, process improvement, change order management, and cash flow, particularly when working with public agencies. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your challenges in making technology work for you.