Despite the churning of the contractor community rumor mill, the Department of Labor has not been impacted by the current government shutdown. The agency received funding earlier in the year so normal operations remain unaffected. Despite the partial shutdown, federal contractors can expect that current OFCCP audits will proceed as usual. While some agencies are closed, and non-essential employees are no longer reporting to work, OFCCP is open and the community should not expect any delays for current and upcoming OFCCP audits.
In February of 2018, we posted a prediction blog: What Can Federal Contractors Anticipate in OFCCP Audits? How did we do now that 2018 is coming to a close?
Prediction 1: “OFCCP… will surely be making some changes”
At the beginning of the year, Ondray Harris was OFCCP director and we expected him to make some considerable changes. He issued his first directive in February before stepping down from his position at the end of July. While many of OFCCP’s changes were started under Harris, the majority came to fruition once Acting Director (now Director) Craig Leen took the reins. Almost immediately after stepping into his new role in August, OFCCP issued a flurry of directives—a total of ten in four months! So, this prediction mostly came true: OFCCP made considerable changes, but they were implemented under a different director!
Craig Leen has moved from Acting Director to Director of Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP) as displayed on OFCCP’s website and confirmed by a Department of Labor spokeswoman. Mr. Leen has served as the Acting Director of OFCCP since August 2018. In the past few months, Director Leen has overseen the release of several directives and has shifted the agency towards conducting focused reviews. He has also identified four points of focus that will provide a road map for the agency’s movement in 2019: (1) transparency (2) certainty (3) efficiency, and (4) recognition. The year 2019 will be a year of changes for contractors under Director Leen – and Berkshire will keep you up to date on this blog. Subscribe today to stay updated!
Although it’s not entirely clear how the agency plans to do so, OFCCP has stated its intention to identify contractors who fail to certify their Affirmative Action compliance for audit review. This certification is currently required as part of the Government Services Administration (GSA) System for Awards Management (SAM). Every organization who does, or wants to do business with the federal government is required to register their company information on SAM. As part of the registration, the company representative must attest to several requirements. One attestation is that the company either has developed an AAP, has AAPs on file or they are not required to have an AAP.
The recipients of the 2018 Program Demonstration Awards have been released. The HIRE Vets Act, which was signed by President Trump in 2017, recognizes employers who recruit, employ and retain veterans. There are awards for small, medium, and large corporations that consist of two tiers: gold and platinum. The criteria for recognition consists of the percentage of new hire veterans, percentage of veterans retained, and total number of veterans employed. Leadership opportunities, training, and tuition assistance for veterans are also considered when recognizing the employers. Notable large companies recognized in 2018 are Southwest Airlines, Northrup Grumman, and Leidos. For a full list of the award recipients as well as the full criteria and application process for the 2019 awards please visit https://www.hirevets.gov/.
Yes, it’s that time again, to reflect on all the accomplishments of the year and those things that despite the best of intentions, were still left undone. Through several happy meetings and scary ghost stories of AAPs past, coworkers have told you to be of good cheer. So, let’s take a look at your list to see if you will be caroling at the holiday dinner party or cleaning coal from your desk.
OFCCP has received approval for a new scheduling letter to be used for focused reviews of Affirmative Action Plans (AAPs) for Individuals with Disabilities (IWD) under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The purpose of the more focused reviews is to reduce the burden on contractors by limiting the scope of the review. According to the OFCCP, “A focused review is smaller in scale compared to the compliance review that is initiated when a contractor receives the Scheduling Letter/Itemized Listing.” The focused review narrows the focus to about one-half of the information requested on the standard Scheduling Letter/Itemized Listing.
The OFCCP has issued three additional directives. Directive 2019–02 outlines the process the OFCCP will use for early resolution of identified violations. With the Early Resolution Procedures or ERP, OFCCP and contractors with multiple establishments can agree to resolve problems quickly with a variety of actions, dependent upon the identified violation.
In their fiscal year 2018 reports, the EEOC and OFCCP report combined monetary settlements of $521 million to victims of workplace discrimination. It was reported that $505 million in funds were paid to settle EEOC complaints, benefiting almost 68,000 people. An additional $16.4 million was paid to 12,000 workers based on findings by the OFCCP, primarily in the area of compensation violations.