As federal contractors are still making systems and policy adjustments to come to a full compliance with the new requirements under the VEVRAA and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 regulations, the OFCCP is also busy pushing for the implementation of all the initiatives they started under Pat Shiu’s administration.
On March 4, 2014, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez released the OFCCP’s 2015 Budget Justification document. In this document, the OFCCP requested for about $3 million budget increase and ten (10) additional full time equivalent employees (FTE’s) compared to what was appropriated for 2014. Of this requested budget and personnel increases, about $1.1 million and all 10 additional FTEs will be used to strengthen the agency’s enforcement towards gender pay discrimination. Compensation equity will remain one of the main focal issues for the OFCCP in 2015. This had become more apparent with President Obama’s signing of a new Executive Order (EO) that protects individuals from retaliation when compensation data or information is shared. The EO also calls for a notice of rulemaking for a compensation data collection tool. In addition to compensation equity reviews, the requested 2015 funding will also be used to complete 3,840 supply and service compliance evaluations and 450 construction contractor reviews in 2015.
For the current year (2014), the OFCCP enforcement efforts will focus on the following:
- Compensation discrimination with the intent of narrowing the pay gap between males and females
- Improving the efficiency and quality of compliance evaluations
- More focus on construction contractors
- Provide assistance to recruit, hire, and retain veterans and persons with disabilities
- Outreach to community-based organizations to provide a better understanding of the new rules
- Implement enterprise-wide investigative process to ensure that changes in personnel processes are implemented throughout the organization
Needless to say, unless there is a major shift of focus from the current administration, employers will continue to feel the weight of being a federal contractor. Pat Shiu had said as much in her earlier speeches – “The price of being a federal contractor had gone up.”
So, how do federal contractors prepare to ensure full compliance and a less painful, if not painless, audit experience?
Here are some recommendations:
- It’s not just about the right statistical process, it’s about the right data!
- If there is adverse impact in the initial analysis of hiring, conduct appropriate refinements to the data
- Collect and retain all required data
- Repair all inaccurate or incomplete data
- Analyze your data regularly throughout the year, but especially prior to submitting
- If impact is discovered: Can the data be refined/cleaned-up? Are you conducting the appropriate analysis? On what step in the process does the impact occur?
- Periodically review personnel processes and job requirements.
- Ensure that job’s physical and mental requirements are job-related and consistent with business necessity.
- Document all good faith efforts
- Know your auditor and know his/her evaluation timeline
- To avoid miscommunication, ensure that all communications and/or requests from the compliance officer are in writing. Ask for clarification when necessary
- Train all personnel involved in any selection process to ensure consistency in the implementation of policies and procedures
- Keep good documentation regarding pay decisions
- Get help