Affirmative Action in 2010 and Beyond: Enforcement and Compliance Strategies


July 26, 2010

In March, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) released its fiscal year 2011 budget request, along with its enforcement initiatives for 2010. The message is clear: OFCCP is better funded, more sophisticated, and more motivated than ever to aggressively enforce affirmative action rules and focus on systemic discrimination. Government contractors are well advised to prepare themselves for more audits and settlements, as there will be a marked increase in enforcement efforts by the OFCCP against non-construction federal contractors beginning October 2010.

OFCCP received a budget of $103 million for fiscal year 2010 under the appropriations legislation signed by President Obama on December 16, 2009. This amount was an increase of over $21 million from the fiscal year 2009 budget allotment of $82.1 million. For 2011, OFCCP has requested $113 million, a $10 million increase over 2010. With this increase in budget, OFCCP is in the process of significantly increasing its workforce and plans to increase the number of compliance evaluations by 20% in 2010.  Now, more than ever, the consequences for non-compliance places a bull’s eye on your company and can be serious: fines, negative publicity, potential civil lawsuits, and even debarment for severe cases.

“Compared with years past, OFCCP more quickly and accurately screens contractor establishments for indicators of potential discrimination … OFCCP is monitoring a larger portion of the federal contractor universe than it has in the past…We are proud of these results which demonstrate our commitment to enforcing the law,” said Charles James, deputy assistant secretary for OFCCP.

According to the OFCCP, the majority of ARRA funding and grants provided federal assistance to construction projects and therefore, special emphasis was placed on the construction industry beginning July 2009.  Their goal was to review a minimum of 360 construction contractors and 90 supply and service contractors, including at least 10% of first-time federal contractors.  These reviews are followed by quarterly compliance evaluations expected to last through September 30, 2010. If a non-construction firm, do not breathe a sigh of relief yet.  Keep in mind that once this period is over, the increased funding and staff will continue to be retained…

Diligent compliance analysis, to preserve privilege and anticipate likely audit concerns, can assist not only in improving overall compliance, but also in assuring that the company is getting the most out of its human resources program.  By understanding the most common compliance failures related to data retention and analysis, Business and HR Leaders can be better equipped with the ability to fully implement a compliant program and to successfully handle an audit.

A fact sheet with additional information about OFCCP’s enforcement results is available on its Web site at www.dol.gov/esa/ofccp.

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