The Catholic University of America

Summary of Federal Laws

Government Contracts

Service Contract Act of 1965

41 U.S.C. § 6701 et seq.; 29 C.F.R. Part 4

Rate of pay requirements for employees working under federal service contracts.Applies to contracts over $2,500 with the principle purpose of furnishing services. Some awards to IHEs will be issued as service contracts and are subject to the Act. Applies to subcontractors as well.

The purpose of the law is to provide labor standards for certain persons employed by federal contractors to furnish services to federal agencies. Payment must be no less than the wage rates and fringe benefits found prevailing in the locality as determined by the DOL, or the rates contained in a predecssor contractor's CBA.

Also addresses fringe benefits, safe and sanitary working conditions, notification to employees of minimum compensation allowed, and equivalent federal employee classification wage rates. Check applied research and services contracts for this clause and its impact on employee compensation packages.

  29 CFR 4.113
defines a service employee as: 

  • Any person enaged in performance of contract, except
  • Employees who qualify as bona fide excecutive, administrative or professional employees under the FLSA.

Examples of service contracts are listed in 29 CFR 4.130(a) The types of contracts, the principal purpose of which is to furnish services through the use of service employees, are too numerous and varied to permit an exhaustive listing. The following list is illustrative, however, of the types of services called for by such contracts that have been found to come within the coverage of the Act. Other examples of covered contracts are discussed in other sections of this subpart.

(1) Aerial spraying.
(2) Aerial reconnaissance for fire detection.
(3) Ambulance service.
(4) Barber and beauty shop services.
(5) Cafeteria and food service.
(6) Carpet laying (other than part of construction) and cleaning.
(7) Cataloging services.
(8) Chemical testing and analysis.
(9) Clothing alteration and repair.
(10) Computer services.
(11) Concessionaire services.
(12) Custodial, janitorial, and housekeeping services.
(13) Data collection, processing, and/or analysis services.
(14) Drafting and illustrating.
(15) Electronic equipment maintenance and operation and engineering support services.
(16) Exploratory drilling (other than part of construction).
(17) Film processing.
(18) Fire fighting and protection.
(19) Fueling services.
(20) Furniture repair and rehabilitation.
(21) Geological field surveys and testing.
(22) Grounds maintenance.
(23) Guard and watchman security service.
(24) Inventory services.
(25) Keypunching and keyverifying contracts.
(26) Laboratory analysis services.
(27) Landscaping (other than part of construction).
(28) Laundry and dry cleaning.
(29) Linen supply services.
(30) Lodging and/or meals.
(31) Mail hauling.
(32) Mailing and addressing services.
(33) Maintenance and repair of all types of equipment, e.g., aircraft, engines, electrical motors, vehicles, and electronic, telecommunications, office and related business, and construction equipment (See §4.123(e).).
(34) Mess attendant services.
(35) Mortuary services.
(36) Motor pool operation.
(37) Nursing home services.
(38) Operation, maintenance, or logistic support of a Federal facility.
(39) Packing and crating.
(40) Parking services.
(41) Pest control.
(42) Property management.
(43) Snow removal.
(44) Stenographic reporting.
(45) Support services at military installations.
(46) Surveying and mapping services (not directly related to construction).
(47) Taxicab services.
(48) Telephone and field interview services.
(49) Tire and tube repairs.
(50) Transporting property or personnel (except as explained in §4.118).
(51) Trash and garbage removal.
(52) Tree planting and thinning, clearing timber or brush, etc. (See also §§4.116(b) and 4.131(f).).
(53) Vending machine services.
(54) Visual and graphic arts.
(55) Warehousing or storage.


 See also 29 CFR 4.111(b)(b) Determining whether a contract is for “services”, generally. Except indirectly through the definition of service employee the Act does not define, or limit, the types of services which may be contracted for under a contract “the principal purpose of which is to furnish services”. As stated in the congressional committee reports on the legislation, the types of service contracts covered by its provisions are varied. Among the examples cited are contracts for laundry and dry cleaning, for transportation of the mail, for custodial, janitorial, or guard service, for packing and crating, for food service, and for miscellaneous housekeeping services. Covered contracts for services would also include those for other types of services which may be performed through the use of the various classes of service employees included in the definition in section 8(b) of the Act (see §4.113). Examples of some such contracts are set forth in §§4.130 et seq. In determining questions of contract coverage, due regard must be given to the apparent legislative intent to include generally as contracts for services those contracts which have as their principal purpose the procurement of something other than the construction activity described in the Davis-Bacon Act or the materials, supplies, articles, and equipment described in the Walsh-Healey Act. The Committee reports in both the House and Senate, and statements made on the floor of the House, took note of the labor standards protections afforded by these two Acts to employees engaged in the performance of construction and supply contracts and observed: “The service contract is now the only remaining category of Federal contracts to which no labor standards protections apply” (H. Rept. 948, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 1; see also S. Rept. 798, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 1; daily Congressional Record, Sept. 20, 1965, p. 23497). A similar understanding of contracts principally for services as embracing contracts other than those for construction or supplies is reflected in the statement of President Johnson upon signing the Act (1 Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, p. 428).



 US DOL Q&A***

McNamara-Ohara Service Contract Act (SCA) DOL page

From DOL Q& A: 

6.  What is the Service Contract Act?

The SCA establishes standards for prevailing compensation and safety and health protections for employees performing work for contractors and subcontractors on service contracts entered into with the federal government and with the District of Columbia. SCA provisions are applicable to contracts the principal purpose of which is to provide services in the United States through the use of service employees. The SCA requires contracting agencies to incorporate new or revised SCA WDs into contracts for services for each solicitation, award, or modification to exercise an option, extend the contract, or change the scope of work (whereby labor requirements are significantly affected).  For service contracts $2,500 and under, SCA Section 2(b)(1) requires payment of the minimum wage in the Fair Labor Standards Act.   For service contracts over $2,500, the Act requires the contracting officer to incorporate into the contract a requirement to pay prevailing wages and benefits issued by DOL in the form of WDs.






updated 12-17-18 mlo