Playing Field for Federal Contractors Has Changed

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has made a number of changes in the last couple of months that have changed the landscape of the playing field for federal contractors.

If you are a federal contractor there are several changes that have been made that you need to be aware of because they will alter how you interact with the federal government, making your life potentially more difficult. These include:

  1. The nature of defending your Affirmative Action efforts has been altered. Director Patricia Shiu said “My belief is that affirmative action can no longer be defined by good faith efforts. The key to good enforcement is good policy.” Accordingly, the OFCCP is updating and revising out of date regulations. “We are going to put some teeth into them,” Shiu stated. The changes will require accountability, adding that “clarity is one of the most important components of enforcement.” She reinforced this statement by announcing a $250,000 judgement against a major drug company for sex discrimination in compensation.
  2. The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) regulations are being revised. The changes would require contractors, for the first time ever, to establish annual hiring benchmarks (i.e. numerical targets) to assist in measuring the effectiveness of their affirmative action efforts, and it would increase data collection requirement on job referrals, applicants and hires. “These numerical targets are not quotas,” Shiu was reported as saying. “They are not ceilings,” she said, rather they are “more concrete” and “less ambiguous than previous requirements of good faith.”
  3. There will be a number of changes coming later in 2011 regarding construction contractor regulations. These will include:
      • Removing outdated regulatory provisions and updating the provisions in the regulations that set forth the actions construction contractors are required to take to implement their affirmative action obligations. It will strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of the affirmative action program requirements for federal and federally-assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, especially in the area of recruitment and job training. In addition a new strategic compensation data collection tool intended to effectively identify contractors that are likely to violate Executive Order 11246. The data collection tool may be used to conduct establishment-specific, contractor-wide, and industry-wide analyses.
      • There will also be revisions to the regulations which set forth interpretations and guidelines for implementing the nondiscrimination provisions of EO 11246 in regard to sex. This guidance was last revised over 30 years ago, Shiu noted, explaining that the upcoming revisions will reflect changes to the workforce since that time and bring the regulations into the 21st Century.
  4. The OFCCP, EEOC, and Department of Justice, for the first time in their history are piloting innovative new programs, according to Shiu. In the “No drama Obama Administration,” Shiu is working with EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrien and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez to put aside old differences, she reported.

There will also be other changes, such as changes to the Federal Contract Compliance Manual, conducting more and careful compliance reviews, and changes to the Rehabilitation Act.
So if you have Federal Contractions you need to brush up on these changes or risk losing your contractor status.
For more information read the OFCCP’s Regulatory Agenda.

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